NOTICES warning rough sleepers that they could have been fined up to £2,500 if they did not comply with orders were issued appropriately, the city council has said.

The authority was criticised in July after it emerged it had attached community protection notices (CPNs) to homeless people’s belongings which had been left in fire escapes in Cornmarket.

The council gave the owners two days to remove the bags and sleeping bags. Two days later, everything had been removed other than cardboard and a soiled duvet, which council staff then removed, and no one was prosecuted.

A council review found staff acted appropriately in the five cases they issued the CPNs to rough sleepers, including those last summer.

The authority said ‘senior officer oversight’, involving legal advice, was already required for any use of CPNs – but that the process will now be written down to ensure 'confidence'.

Tom Hayes, board member for community safety, said: “The review found existing policies are appropriate and the use of CPNs in these five cases was proportionate. The report recommends that the procedures are updated to provide frontline officers with confidence when dealing with these behaviours in future.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that the city council has not and will not issue CPNs to somebody because they are sleeping rough or are homeless.”

CPNs were introduced in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and can be used by councils to stop people from doing things that they feel reduce people’s quality of life.

It is understood that in one case, the city council used a CPN in an effort to prevent a homeless man living in a bus shelter.

No CPNs have been issued to rough sleepers since July.

An online petition set up by Oxford campaigner Stuart Fowkes, urging the council not to use CPNs, has been signed by 5,513 people after it was published in July.

At a scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday, councillors backed the council’s policy and review.

David Thomas, the leader of the Green Party on the council, said legal advice his group had received claimed the notices had been incorrectly issued and were legally unenforceable.

However, he conceded some of the council’s use of CPNs in the past had been ‘effective’. 

The council said it was confident it had acted lawfully when it issued all of the notices. The notice warned that a failure to comply with instructions would mean they had committed an offence.