News, Culture & Society

Rochdale council reverses plans to ban swearing in town

A council has ditched controversial plans to ban residents from swearing in a town.

Authorities in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, wanted to slap locals with a £100 fine if they were caught turning the air blue as part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

The ‘Public Space Protection Order’ (PSPO) also proposed to ban begging, playing loud music, loud revving car engines, unauthorised charity collectors, street drinking and skateboarding.

But the local authority has now dropped the swearing ban following a huge outcry when it was announced in March.

Critics said it would breach human rights and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) raised concerns about enforcing the ban.

Rochdale Council in Greater Manchester have reversed plans to ban swearing in the city centre after a huge public outcry (pictured, tower blocks in the town centre)

A report into the plans reads: ‘GMP supported the PSPO but advised to drop the swearing ban given the issues with enforcement and that there is already legislation in place to deal with people using foul and abusive language in a manner that causes or is likely to cause harassment alarm or distress.’

Locals were also hugely critical of the proposal online. Resident Becky Aspinall said: ‘Another fine example of a council spending other people’s hard earned money on something ridiculous. Bravo Rochdale town hall, bravo!’

Another internet user questioned which words would be classed as ‘foul’ and how residents and visitors would be made aware of the banned words.

David Heath said: ‘What designates a swear word and how is it a civil or criminal offence? Plus where will they put a list of the words in full and where will the signs be placed?’

Another resident, Kathy Evans also questioned how the police were meant to implement and enforce the ban.

Plans from March were part of a Public Space Protection Order that also wanted to ban begging and playing loud music (pictured: Rochdale town hall) 

Plans from March were part of a Public Space Protection Order that also wanted to ban begging and playing loud music (pictured: Rochdale town hall) 

She said: ‘There’s no way they could implement that unless they went around filming and recording sound at the same time, And I’m sure that would be an infringement on our human rights.’

Human rights group Liberty also criticised the proposed ban. Lara ten Caten, Liberty’s legal officer, said: ‘These proposals are a staggering misuse of power.

‘The council is seeking to limit the rights and freedoms of Rochdale residents without providing any evidence of a need to do so – or even bothering to consult them in the first place.

‘This PSPO would make criminals of the homeless and vulnerable, the young, the politically-engaged and businessmen and women alike.

‘Criminalising those most in need is no answer to rising homelessness, while the swearing ban is so vague no one could possibly know whether they risk breaking the law or not. Rochdale deserves better.’