Police to monitor city centre buskers and street performers after new code of conduct introduced

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Council give update given on next steps for city centre busking and street performing in Glasgow.

A report on busking and street performing in Glasgow city centre what action will follow was presented to a council committee this week. The council hear that “busking and street performing are seen by many as time-honoured traditions that bring additional life and atmosphere to city centre streets for visitors” however these activities are considered to be occasionally intrusive or a nuisance to residents and those who work in the area.

 The city has a voluntary code of conduct for busking and street performing in its city centre that provides key guidelines for performers, but the council is limited in how it can respond because the law does not easily allow local authorities to take action against those breaching the code.

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In Glasgow, the council regularly receives complaints from the public about what they see as “nuisance” street performing, with an assumption that this is a matter that should be addressed at a local authority level.

Both Glasgow City Council and the City of Edinburgh Council separately undertook public consultations in 2023 to gather views in city centre busking - with one of the largest consultation responses (over 2,700) ever received to such an exercise in Glasgow. 

The consultation had the following key findings:

  • The vast majority of respondents feel that busking is a worthwhile activity and should continue to take place;
  • Just over half of respondents feel that noise levels are an issue which could/should be addressed;
  • Other issues cited included poor performance quality, repetition/limited repertoires, overlong duration at pitches, etc;
  • Most respondents either ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘tended to agree’ that the existing code of conduct should be more prominently displayed in busking hotspots;
  • Around one in ten respondents said that the code of conduct should be enforced 

The council will now introduce on-street signage in Buchanan Street promoting the busking code of conduct; the development of a new webpage with information related to busking that allows people to raise complaints for attendance by council Community Enforcement Officers.

The council says it will “continue to work with Police Scotland around complaints where a simple resolution with CEOs cannot achieved.  Busking behaviour - and the incidence of complaints -will be monitored to test the effectiveness of the new signage and the code of conduct.” Enforcement offficers and Police Scotland will have an “enhanced presence” around Buchanan Street and the city centre during the summer months: “Recurring complaints and the identification of buskers and performers persistently breaching the code of conduct may result in stronger measures such as fixed penalty notices, confiscation of equipment and potential referral to the Procurator Fiscal’s Office.”

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The council is “exploring the practicalities of acquiring greater powers” to act on complaints. 

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: "Buskers and street performers are for many people a welcome feature of the city centre experience - and to make this experience as positive as possible, we asked for views on how this activity can best take place.  The scale of the consultation responses received underlined support for these performers, but also indicated some issues which can impact on the quality of a visit to the city centre, as well as the experience of local residents, businesses and workers.  In response to this, the council and its partners have identified a series of actions to help promote the buskers’ code of conduct  and respond to instances where some do not respect the code."

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