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Date issued: 16 February 2019
A rough sleeper has been banned from Colchester Town Centre, after a County Court judge granted an injunction sought by Colchester Borough Council.
It means Michael Chaukley, who had been begging and sleeping rough in the town for several years and is known for his colourful pavement drawings of animals, cannot enter an area covered by the Town Centre PSPO or behave in a way capable of causing alarm or distress to any person, without facing arrest.
On Thursday (14 February) Her Honour Judge Shanks heard how Chaukley had continued to beg and draw on pavements in the town, despite repeated efforts by support agencies and outreach workers for him to engage and take up secure accommodation or even find an alternative outlet for his artistic talents.
Zone Wardens and the police had tried on numerous occasions to control Chaukley’s behaviour, which also included starting fires, but he would often become aggressive if anyone offered him anything other than money to satisfy his drug dependency.
The court was told how Chaukley was given a Community Protection Warning (CPW) on 7 September 2018 preventing him from defacing public land with graffiti, obstructing the highway, setting fire to his belongings, begging or being under the influence of any substances in public.
Less than a month later, on 4 October 2018, Chaukley was served with a Community Protection Notice (PCN), as he did not adhere to the CPW.
On 19 October 2018, the defendant was arrested for a public order offence in the Town Centre plus two breaches of his CPN and later fined by magistrates – but four days later was again seen drawing on the pavement and begging in breach of his CPN.
On 11 December 2018, Chaukley assaulted a council street sweeper driver who was trying to carry out his normal duties.
Cllr Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Public Safety & Licensing, said: “Unfortunately, because of their complex individual issues, some people will still sleep rough and not accept any help available. However, that should not prevent us from acting in the interest of the wider community if their entrenched behaviour is anti-social and doing so would also be for their own good.
“We always work to support people and offer them a route out of a destructive lifestyle towards a new life off the streets, but ultimately, if they refuse to do that, we must take action for the good of the community and the person trapped in that situation.
“The tragedy is that Mr Chaukley is obviously a gifted artist whose talents could be recognised by a much wider audience if only he acted on the assistance available – something we have tried to persuade him to do for some time.
“I hope this injunction compels him to reflect on some of the other options available and to engage with the specialist support he clearly needs.”
Her Honour Judge Shanks ordered that Chaukley be served the injunction for 12 months, granting the police the power of arrest under section 1(9) of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, without a warrant, if there is reasonable cause to suspect a breach of the injunction.