Anti-social, Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was introduced in the House of Commons following the Queen’s speech on 9th May 2013 and had its second reading on the 10th June 2013. Parts 1-6 of the Bill represent the government’s attempt to overhaul the statutory powers available to tackle anti-social behaviour and disorderly conduct. The proposed Bill would replace the 19 powers currently available with 6 powers: The Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNA), Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO), Dispersal power, Community Protection Notice, Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) and Closure Power. The other parts of the Bill consider arrangements for policing, new offences, changes to extradition appeals and compensation for miscarriages of justice.

JUSTICE is concerned that, as currently formulated, the anti-social behaviour parts of the Bill would create a number of overly broad, imprecisely defined and easily triggered coercive orders with the potential to unjustifiably restrict lawful behaviour and disproportionately penalise young people.

In particular our concerns are that:

  • The threshold and burden of proof for the imposition of an IPNA is currently set too low. The IPNA as drafted is liable to be used to restrict conduct which is not unlawful or sufficiently anti-social;
  • The judicial discretion to add positive requirements to an IPNA or CBO could make breach inevitable and bring vulnerable people unnecessarily into the criminal justice system;
  • The test for the use of the dispersal power is highly subjective and does not require the police to obtain prior authorisation. These powers could be disproportionately used to disperse protests or restrict freedom of association;
    The Bill offers penalties but provides no new systems of support to address the causes of anti-social offending. This is a significant concern at a time of unprecedented cuts to youth spending;
  • Removing the presumption in favour of reporting restrictions for young people will lead to undue attention upon the most vulnerable in society.
    The time limit for all extradition appeals should be 14 days. Discretion to extend should be available in exceptional circumstances where the interests of justice so require;
  • A leave requirement should not be imposed upon requested persons. If introduced, this should extend to requesting states, and be subject to review. Legal aid must remain available and be granted expeditiously;
  • Compensation for miscarriages of justice must not be limited to cases where new evidence shows beyond reasonable doubt that the person is innocent. The current test should remain, that no reasonable jury could convict.

JUSTICE considers that the powers in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 are overly broad, arbitrary and discriminatory in their application, and inconsistent with the rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and the common law. JUSTICE welcomes the Government recognition that Schedule 7 requires reform. However, while many of the changes proposed are designed to circumscribe the powers available to officers, nothing would limit the exceptionally broad discretion which allows for individuals to be stopped whether or not any grounds exist for suspecting that they may have an involvement in terrorist activity. An objective requirement for grounds to justify the need to stop an individual must be included.