You may be a nuisance or annoyance for the time being but this may soon change- the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill.

The Bill seeks to introduce a revised and reduced sentencing and orders framework by focussing on seven ASB measures.

 

In December 2012, the Home Office published its Draft Anti-Social Behaviour Bill. The Bill will no doubt receive considerable attention from various quarters, not least because it seeks to bring new confidence and will to this social problem. One part of the draft Bill looks at establishing a community remedy document which would deal with responses to complaints of anti-social behaviour and there is an online Community Remedy consultation which will remain open until the 7th March 2013. 

The Bill seeks to introduce a revised and reduced sentencing and orders framework by focussing on seven ASB measures. These are:

  • injunctions to stop nuisance and annoyance;

  • compulsory possession on ASB grounds;

  • community protection notices;

  • criminal behaviour orders;

  • dispersal powers;

  • public spaces protection orders;

  • closure of premises.

The proposals are under pre-legislative scrutiny by the Home Affairs Select Committee taking evidence from a number of experts.

The Bill was published by Jeremy Browne the Minister of State for Crime Prevention when he said '…..It is important that those who are affected by these changes, from the professionals who will use the new powers, to victims seeking protection from targeted abuse, continue to shape the reforms, making sure that we get this right first time'.

Mr Browne went on to say.....

'Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own homes and neighbourhoods, but for too many people anti-social behaviour remains a fact of life. The consequences can be devastating, which is why we are putting victims first by taking forward measures in our anti-social behaviour white paper that will support local areas to:

  • Focus the response to anti-social behaviour on the needs of victims;

  • Empower communities to get involved in tackling anti-social behaviour;

  • Ensure professionals are able to protect the public quickly through the introduction of faster, more effective powers and proposals to speed up the eviction of the most anti-social tenants; and

  • Focus on long-term solutions'.

It is worrying that the original legislation was passed some 15 years ago with the Crime and Public Disorder Act 1998.

You may remember that there has been concern for some time about the way we deal with anti-social behaviour, but one wonders how some of these concerns have been addressed by this Bill.

In January 2012 the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced proposals to trial a measure effectively requiring the police to act in certain situations. This meant that Police must act to deal with anti-social behaviour if five households in one area complain about another resident. This has been referred to as The "Community Trigger" aimed at preventing, in Theresa May's words, "horror stories of victims reporting the same problem over and over again".

Some of you may remember Fiona Pilkington a mother who killed herself and her disabled daughter following repeated harassment by youngsters.

Fiona Pilkington had complained to police at least 33 times about the treatment she and 18-year-old Francecca Hardwick had received, including having their house pelted with stones and eggs. Mrs Pilkington killed herself and her own daughter.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission found that officers had failed to take "robust action".

There are some that think the principle of combining what are criminal offences, and dealing with them under the framework intended for ASB, is fundamentally wrong. This includes Sara Payne who, as Victims' Adviser, reported her views to the last Labour government in 2009 in her report 'Redefining Justice' . Sara does not believe it is right to attempt to deal with 'relatively serious' offences with anti-social behaviour orders and dispersal orders instead of prosecution through the criminal courts.

The Home Office acknowledge that they 'hear of cases where the same antisocial behaviour problem is reported again and again, only to receive an inadequate response'. 

Eight police force areas trialled a new approach to better identify vulnerable and repeat victims of antisocial behaviour and prioritise their cases to ensure they receive a better service. The aim was to focus on the harm that victims experience as opposed to procedures.

The Home Office report on the trial can be found here call-handling trials report, 'Focus on the victim', and highlights the key results from the trials.
 
Apparently we are told by the Home Office that
'the forces participating in the trials reported improved caller satisfaction, better and quicker identification of vulnerable victims and closer working with other agencies in dealing with high-risk cases. Forces have also described how focusing on the harm caused to the victim, rather than the nature of the antisocial behaviour incident itself, has helped their officers to realise just how damaging antisocial behaviour can be.'

It will be interesting to hear whether the Home Affairs Select Committee shares the Minister's optimism.











 

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