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Westminster Bridge: Lambeth to renew ban on ‘cup and ball’ scam

Bridie Witton, Local Democracy Reporter

A ban on street gambling and 'cup and ball' games on the Lambeth side of Westminster Bridge is set to be extended into 2022, as the authority fines hundreds of offenders.

Westminster Bridge: Lambeth to renew ban on ‘cup and ball’ scam
A sign in Forum Magnum Square giving notice of the PSPO

Police and Lambeth Council officers have been enforcing the rule since February – despite it being in place since 2017 – with offending taking place along the border of Westminster and Lambeth.

Westminster Council didn't put signs up about the ban – or public space protection order – which meant it could not be enforced in 2017 or 2018, a council report said.

But gambling and gaming is a "persistent" problem, with offenders often "nonchalant and arrogant", the report continued.

And the gambling often attracts anti social behaviour like pick-pocketing.

"Since the public service protection order was made enforceable in February 2019, Lambeth officers have issued over 290 fixed penalty notices. This demonstrates the persistent and continuing nature of the problem in Lambeth," the report said.

"There are numerous examples throughout the past two years of victims having had multiple hundreds of pounds stolen, on more than five occasions victims had more than £300 stolen, and one victim lost £700 in cash during a single incident."

Gamblers will be fined £100 if paid within 28 days, otherwise they are liable on summary conviction to a maximum penalty £1000.

Council officers described the need for "seamless enforcement" across the bridge, with half of the bridge in Westminster, but the authority's ban is due to expire in December.

It is hoped that the crackdown will deter the gambling and gaming.

"Lambeth Officers report that the offenders they interact with are often nonchalant and arrogant, regularly intimating that the enforcement activity we undertake will have no impact…[but]now individuals are being successfully prosecuted, their behaviour will change and that additional court powers exercisable upon conviction may assist further in this respect," the report said.

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