The Council’s requirements for busking in the borough
Buskers and street entertainers should familiarise themselves and adhere to the Guide to Busking and Street Entertainment in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea 2019.
The Guide is intended to help avoid any potential problems by setting out a range of advice for buskers and street entertainers and to explain the duties that are set out in the Code of Conduct.
Busking and Street Entertainment Code of Conduct
The Guide includes a Busking and Street Entertainment Code of Conduct. This borough-wide voluntary code sets out twelve specific duties, that we believe constitute good practice which all buskers and street entertainers should comply with when performing in the borough:
- A performance of busking or street entertainment in any one location must be for no more than 45 minutes in duration.
- Once a performance of busking or street entertainment has taken place in a particular location, the individual performers providing that entertainment shall not perform in the same location on the same calendar day. A performance is deemed to have taken place as soon as any entertainment has begun, whether or not the performers make full use of the 45 minutes allowed for the performance.
- Buskers and street entertainers shall ensure that each new location is at least 100 meters away from any previous location (that is at least the length of a football pitch).
- Busking or street entertainment is only permitted between the hours of 10am and 7pm.
- Buskers and street entertainers shall not use any amplifiers, loud speakers, megaphones or any similar equipment in their performance.
- Buskers and street entertainers shall ensure that sound levels are not intrusive. Sound that prevents or hinders normal conversation taking place 10 meters or more from a performance will generally be considered intrusive.
- Buskers and street entertainers shall ensure a full and varied repertoire (avoiding excessive repetition of any song or piece of music).
- Buskers and street entertainers shall ensure that performances shall generally consist of no more than six performers. Except that in the Purple Regulated Areas the maximum number of performers is limited to three; and in the Red Restricted and Regulated Areas the maximum number of performers is limited to two.
- Buskers and street entertainers must have public liability indemnity insurance in place for up to £2 million and must be able to immediately produce evidence of the policy to any person authorised by the Council or the Police or any Police Community Support Officers.
- Buskers and street entertainers shall ensure that their performance does not cause an unreasonable obstruction to other pedestrians and road users.
- Buskers and street entertainers must not sell any goods (such as CD recordings) without the requisite authority from the Council.
- Buskers and street entertainers must act on the reasonable instructions given to them by any person authorised by the Council or the Police or Police Community Support Officers in particular where those instructions are based on an their assessment that the busking or street entertainment is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality.
Complaints reported to the Council
The Council recognises that busking and all forms of street entertainment can contribute to the vibrancy and character of the borough. However, in 2018 we received 1,136 complaints about anti-social busking and complaints have been increasing year on year. Typically complaints are about one (or a combination of) the following issues:
- the level of noise of the performance, or use of amplifiers (for example: the amp is too loud)
- sound clash when more than one busker is performing in the area at the same time
- performance fatigue because there is one act after another performing in the same place
- limited, repetitive repertoire (listening to the same song over and over again)
- the times when people perform (performing in the morning or in the evenings seem to generate the most complaints from residents, but for businesses performances during the working day cause the most disturbance)
- dangerous congestion when crowds gather to watch, often barring the way for others such as those using wheelchairs and pushchairs and causing pedestrians to spill into the road
How do I report breaches of the PSPO?
What are the penalties for breaching the PSPO?
On summary conviction in a Magistrates’ Court, breaching the PSPO can result in a maximum fine of £1,000 can be imposed. In most cases, however, a person who breaches a PSPO will be given the opportunity of discharging their criminal liability by paying a fixed penalty of £100 (provided payment is made within 14-days) which will be further reduced to £60 if payment is made within 7-days.
Review of the PSPOs
The PSPOs will initially be in place for a period of three years. They will be kept under constant review during that period to assess whether that are achieving their purpose and whether there is a need to either reduce or extend their ambit. There will also continue to be an on-going dialogue with the busking community. Our goal is not to limit artistic creativity, but to enhance the quality of life for residents and provide opportunity for entertainers. We hope the PSPOs will achieve this by discouraging irresponsible anti-social busking and street entertainment.
What are the penalties for anti-social busking outside of the PSPO areas?
Outside of the areas defined in the PSPOs, anti-social busking that is clearly breaching the Busking and Street Entertainment Code of Conduct can be dealt with by issuing a Community Protection Notice (CPN) under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. A CPN can be issued by a Street Enforcement Officer or the Police, following a warning being issued and the meeting of the tests set out in S43(1) of the Act. Breaches of the CPN can result in the issuing of a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice.
As with breaches of the PSPO, you can report anti-social busking that is breaching the Code of Conduct to the Council by telephoning 020 7361 3002.
An online reporting form is also available on the Contact the Noise and Nuisance Team page.
You can email general enquiries about busking to Busking@rbkc.gov.uk