The policing of public order is fraught with conflict. The ‘right’ of one person or group to enjoy public spaces is often presented as being in conflict with the rights of others to do the same. Other rights may conflict with one another in the context of public space, including the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of assembly and the right to freedom from interference. Further, interactions in public space between police and members of the public can result in both verbal and physical conflict. Each may harbour resentment and prejudice against the other which influences, and is influenced by, the exchanges that occur between them in public space. In the midst of all this, laws must be drafted to regulate behaviour and protect rights. While the aim is to strike the right balance between competing interests, the interests of some have historically taken precedence over those of others. The ‘public nuisance’ offence provides an apt example of this.