Rough sleeper banned from Colchester town centre

Michael Chaukley has been banned from Colchester town centre. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Michael Chaukley has been banned from Colchester town centre. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A rough sleeper has been banned from Colchester town centre for 12 months following an injunction sought by Colchester Borough Council.

Michael Chaukley, who has been begging and sleeping rough in Colchester for a number of years is known to many for his colourful pavement drawings of animals.

Following the injunction granted by County Court judge Chaukley cannot enter an area covered the Town Centre PSPO or behave in a way capable of causing alarm or distress to any person without facing arrest.

On Thursday, February 14, Judge Shanks heard how Chaukley had continued to beg and draw on the pavements in the town despite repeated efforts by both support agencies and outreach workers to find him secure accommodation or an alternative outlet for his artistic talents.

Police and zone wardens had tried to control Chaukley’s behaviour on a number of occasions.

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Chaukley had started fires and would become aggressive if offered anything other than money to satisfy his drug dependency.

The court heard that Chaukley had been given a community protection warning on September 7, 2018 to prevent him defacing public land with graffiti, obstructing the highway, setting fire to his belongings, begging or being under the influence of substances in public.

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After not adhering to the warning Chaukley was given a community protection notice on October 4, 2018.

On October 19, 2018 he was arrested for a public order offence in the Town Centre and was fined by magistrates. Four days later he was seen drawing on the pavement and begging, breach his community protection notice.

On December 11, 2018, Chaukley assaulted a council street sweeper driving who was carrying out his duties.

Mike Lilley, portfolio holder for planning, public safety & licensing at Colchester Borough Council 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.”

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