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Anti-Social Behaviour Crime & Policing Act 2014

Anti-social behaviour is a broad term used to describe the day-to-day incidents of crime, nuisance and disorder that make many people's lives a misery - from litter to vandalism, public drunkenness to aggressive dogs, to noisy or abusive neighbours

Because there is such a wide range of behaviours, it means that responsibility for dealing with anti-social behaviour is shared between a number of agencies including Devon & Cornwall Police, Torridge District Council, and Registered Social Landlords, who will all work together in conjunction with Safer North Devon your local Community Safety Partnership.  Safer North Devon will work in partnership to improve the quality of life for all those who live in or visit North Devon.  By implementing strategies with their partners they aim to reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and the fear of crime, thereby creating a safer environment.

In terms of behaviour, what is deemed as 'anti-social' will vary from victim to victim and community to community.  This is why the Government have changed the way incidents of anti-social behaviour are reported.  The focus is no longer exclusively on the actual behaviour itself, but on the impact that the behaviour has on the individual victim or Community.  The right response to that behaviour will depend on a range of factors, but most importantly it will be about the needs of the victim and the impact the behaviour is having on their lives.

It is with this approach in mind that the Government have introduced a number of new anti-social behaviour tools and powers which came into effect on the 20 October 2014 (with the exception of the Civil Injunction power, which is anticipated will be available in early 2015).  Further information on these new powers is available by clicking on the relevant links provided.

CIVIL INJUNCTION

A Civil Injunction is a new power under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which will be available from early 2015.

A Civil Injunction is designed to stop or prevent individuals engaging in anti-social behaviour quickly before the behaviour begins to escalate.  It can offer fast and effective protection for victims and communities and set a clear standard of behaviour for perpetrators.

A wide range of agencies can make use of the Civil Injunction including Devon & Cornwall Police, Local Councils and Registered Social Landlords.

The terms of any Civil Injunction can include "prohibitions" (the individual must stop doing something), as well as "positive requirements" (the individual must start doing something) which will address the underlying causes of their anti-social behaviour.

Prior to making an application for a Civil Injunction, agencies must first consider if the behaviour is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress (to any person in a public place), or if the behaviour is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance (to any person's occupation of residential premises).  This will be established through consultation with victims and communities to better understand the impact the behaviour is having.

If an individual breaches a Civil Injunction it is considered a Civil contempt of Court which, if proven, could lead to a fine and or up to two years in prison.

CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR ORDER

A Criminal Behaviour Order can be issued by any criminal court against an individual who has been convicted of an offence.  It aims to tackle individual's anti-social behaviour that is more persistent and who are also engaging in criminal activity.

When applying for a Criminal Behaviour Order, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the offender has engaged in behaviour that has caused or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any person and that the order will help prevent the offender from engaging in such behaviour.

The terms of a Criminal Behaviour Order can include "prohibitions" (the individual must stop doing something) and also "positive requirements" (the individual must start doing something), which will help address the underlying causes of the offender's behaviour.

It is a criminal offence to breach a Criminal Behaviour Order and therefore any breach must be proved to a criminal standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt).

DISPERSAL POWERS

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014, Police Officers (in uniform) and Police Community Support Officers (PCSO's) (if designated by the Chief Constable) can instruct an individual who has committed, or is likely to commit, anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder to leave a particular area for up to 48 hours.  However, the use of the Dispersal Power must be authorised by an officer of Inspector rank or above.

Officers must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the individual's behaviour is contributing, or is likely to contribute to, members of the public being harassed, alarmed or distressed, and the removal of that individual will remove or reduce the likelihood of further anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder.

An area does not have to be designated as a dispersal zone in advance, so the dispersal power can be used to provide immediate respite for a community from anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder.

The use of Dispersal Powers is only a short-term respite for the community;  in areas which experience regular anti-social behaviour, the Police may work with other agencies to agree a more sustainable long-term solution.

COMMUNITY PROTECTION NOTICE

The purpose of a Community Protection Notice is to stop individuals over the age of 16, businesses or organisations committing anti-social behaviour which has a detriment on the communities quality of life.  Community Protection Notices can be served by the Council, the Police, Police Community Support Officers, (if designated by a Chief Officer) and Registered Social Landlords (if designated by the Council), and may be used to deal with particular ongoing problems or nuisances which negatively affect the community, by targeting those responsible.  They can cover a wide range of anti-social behaviours and can be used against a wide range of perpetrators.

When considering if a Community Protection Notice is an appropriate approach, the agencies involved must be able to demonstrate that the behaviour is:

  • having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
  • of a persistent or continuing nature; and
  • unreasonable

When deciding whether the behaviour is having a detrimental effect, agencies will consult with the victims and/or potential victims to better understand the effects the behaviour is having.

Once an issue has been identified and the above tests are met, a written warning may be given to the alleged perpetrator requesting that they stop their anti-social behaviour;  the warning letter may also highlight consequences should they fail to comply with the warning.

A Community Protection Notice may include a requirement to stop doing something, to start doing something, or to take reasonable steps to avoid further anti-social behaviour.

Breaching a Community Protection Notice is a criminal offence.  If appropriate, a breach may be dealt with by means of a Fixed Penalty Notice in lieu of prosecution in a Magistrates Court.

PUBLIC SPACES PROTECTION ORDER

The Public Spaces Protection Order is designed to stop individuals or groups committing anti-social behaviour in a public space.

Before a Public Spaces Protection Order can be issued, the Council must be able to show that the behaviour which will be restricted under the Order:

  • has, or is likely to have a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
  • is of a persistent or continuing nature
  • is unreasonable

A Public Spaces Protection Order can contain both restrictions and requirements which will be determined by the Council after consultation with the Police and other relevant agencies or partners.  Orders can be targeted against particular behaviours by particular groups at specific times with more than one restriction being included within the Public Spaces Protection Order.

Breaching a Public Spaces Protection Order is a criminal offence.  If appropriate, a breach may be dealt with by means of a Fixed Penalty Notice in lieu of prosecution in a Magistrates Court.

CLOSURE ORDER

A Closure Order will allow the Police or the Council to close premises which are being used, or are likely to be used, to commit nuisance or disorder.  It is a flexible power that can be used to protect victims and communities by closing premises quickly.

The power comes in two stages; a Closure Notice followed by a Closure Order.

Before issuing a Closure Notice of up to 48 hours without going to Court, the Council or the Police must be able to demonstrate that there is, or there will be:

  • nuisance to the public
  • disorder near the premises

Once a Closure Notice has been issued, an application must be made to a Magistrates Court within 48 hours for a Closure Order;  such Order can be for up to six months.  For a Closure Order to be granted, the Court must be satisfied that:

  • a person has engaged or is likely to engage in disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour on the premises; or
  • the use of the premises has resulted or is likely to result in serious nuisance to members of the public; or
  • that there has been or is likely to be disorder near those premises associated with the use of the premises and that the Order is necessary to prevent the behaviour, nuisance or disorder from continuing, recurring or occurring

Breaching a Closure Notice or a Closure Order is a criminal offence with the following penalties;

  • Closure Notice, up to three months in prison;
  • Closure Order, up to six months in prison;
  • both, an unlimited fine for residential and non-residential premises

COMMUNITY TRIGGER

The Community Trigger has been introduced as part of the Anti Social, Crime and Policing Act 2014.  It offers the victims of anti-social behaviour the opportunity to request that their case is reviewed.

What will the Community Trigger be used for?

The Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought in a new additional measure for people who have been victims of repeat anti-social behaviour.  This legislation makes it easier for a victim or someone acting on their behalf to make an application to have their case reviewed:  a review will look at every aspect of the specific case to establish where all available and appropriate actions were carried out.

The Community Trigger is not a platform for making complaints against specific individuals who may have input on a case.  Complaints of this nature should be made through the relevant agency's formal complaints procedure.

When can I put in a Community Trigger application?

For your application to be accepted, it must meet the locally agreed threshold. For Torridge, this is:

  • the investigation into the anti-social behaviour has been completed
  • the first report of anti-social behaviour was made within one month of the alleged behaviour taking place
  • the initial report was made after April 2014
  • there have been 3 or more reports of anti-social behaviour in the last 6 months
  • the alleged incidents have all been reported to an agency, eg:  Devon & Cornwall Police, Torridge District Council or a local Registered Social Landlord

How can I put in a Community Trigger application?

To activate a Community Trigger you can either;

  • telephone Devon & Cornwall Police by ringing 101, or if you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, you can text phone 18001 101
  • telephone the Council's Community Safety Team on 01237 428700
  • Write to Torridge District Council, Environmental Health and Community Safety, Bridge Buildings, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2HT, or email us at environmental.protection@torridge.gov.uk

COMMUNITY REMEDY

The Community Remedy gives victims a say in the out-of-court punishment of perpetrators of low-level crime and anti-social behaviour.

In addition to giving victims a voice, the Community Remedy will offer offenders an alternative to going to court and getting a criminal record with the aim of ultimately reducing re-offending.

The legislation does not specify what actions should be included in any Local Community Remedy document.  The Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall has a duty to consult with members of the public, community groups, the Local Authority and the Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall on what should be included.

All actions contained within the document will be appropriate and proportionate for the types of offences the Community Remedy will be used for and they will seek to have a positive impact on the perpetrator.

Each action is expected to have a:

  • punitive element:  reflecting the effects on the victim and the wider community; or
  • reparative element:  achieving appropriate restitution/reparation to the victim; or
  • rehabilitative element:  helping to address the causes of the perpetrator's behaviour; or
  • a combination of these

The Police & Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall  www.devonandcornwall-pcc.gov.uk