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Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill 2013-14
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On 22 May 2012, a white paper on anti-social behaviour (ASB) was published, which included proposals to replace the antisocial behaviour orders brought in by the previous government.
Also included in the white paper was an emphasis on framing ASB as a local problem. Instead of establishing a single, central model, the white paper suggested that local agencies needed to respond to the needs of their communities, something it believes the new Police and Crime Commissioners will play a key role in.
The draft Bill was published in December 2012 and took forward a number of these proposals.
The Bill also reduced the number of anti-social behaviour (ASB) orders from nineteen to six, which was welcomed by the home affairs committee. However, they warned that the ASB lacked preventative measures to ensure that behaviour of this type was not present in the first place.
The Bill aims to:
- Replace and condense the nineteen existing powers to deal with anti-social behaviour into six faster, more effective ones, giving victims the power to ensure that action is taken to deal with persistent anti-social behaviour through the new Community Trigger, and a greater say in what form of sanction an offender received out of court through the new Community Remedy
- Strengthen the powers to tackle irresponsible dog ownership by extending to private places the offence of owning/being in charge of a dog that is dangerously out of control in a public place and providing that a dog attack on an assistance dog constitutes and aggravated offence
- Increase the maximum penalty for the illegal importation/exportation of firearms and creating a new offence of "possession for sale or transfer"
- Tackle forced marriage by making forced marriage a criminal offence and criminalising the breach of a Forced Marriage Protection Order
- Replace the Police Negotiating Board with a new Police Remuneration Review Body
- Confer on Police and Crime Commissioners responsibility for commissioning victims services, and rectifying anomalies in the framework of financial controls on chief officers and in the arrangements for the authorisation of British Transport Police firearms officers
London Councils said the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill could "result in simplifying the system" but suggested it was "too police-led and does not recognise the vital role that councils play in crime prevention."
The Children's Society called for a stronger emphasis on restorative justice as measures in the Bill "risked repeating ineffective measures taken in the past."
Blue Cross questioned the inclusion of the measures to protect the public from dog attacks in the Bill, rather than consolidating the legislation into a new Dog Control Bill.
Certain sections of the Bill will extend to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
During the first two days of committee, the committee took evidence from a range of organisations including the Police Negotiating Board and Police Board for England and Wales, Alcohol Concern, ACPO and NACR, Criminal Justice Alliance, Communication Workers Union, ACPO and Thames Valley Police.
The committee then moved to clause by clause discussion. On day three, the committee considered clauses related to injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance. On day four, criminal behaviour orders were discussed. On the fifth day, the committee looked at clauses dealing with community protection, public spaces protection orders, and on the closure of premises associated with nuisance and disorder. On day six, clauses on tenants and landlords, community remedies and dangerous dogs were looked at. Day seven saw the committee discussing firearms, forced marriage and the structure of the police force. During the debate on the eighth day, the committee looked at border control and extradition. On the ninth and final day the committee finished up the discussion of extradition and looked at clauses pertaining to criminal justice and court fees. The Bill was passed to the report stage.
The first day of the remaining stages debate of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill took place in the Commons on 14 October 2013. Whilst provisions for further safeguarding children from sexual abuse were agreed to, a new clause that would criminalise printed material describing child sex abuse was withdrawn.
An opposition amendment looking to maintain anti-social behaviour orders was not moved, whilst an amendment to provisions on background checks for firearm licenses was defeated by a slim margin.
The second day of the remaining stages debate of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill took place in the Commons the following day.
A range of provisions on forced marriage, criminal records checks and miscarriages of justice were agreed to. Despite pressing new clause 3 to a division, opposition proposals on tackling irresponsible dog ownership were defeated.
Home Office minister Norman Baker did however give assurances that the government would table amendments in the House of Lords to tackle issues around dangerous dogs.
The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed on 16 October 2013. The second reading took place in the Commons on 29 October 2013. After a short debate, the Bill was read for the second time and passed to a Committee of the Whole House.
Forced marriage was the main focus of the first day of committee stage of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill on 12 November 2013. No amendments were agreed or pressed to a division. Other topics discussed included sexual harm prevention orders, miscarriages of justice and low-level shoplifting.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was debated in committee stage for the second day in the Lords on 18 November 2013. A range of opposition amendments focusing on the proposals around injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance (IPNAs) were discussed, but were all withdrawn.
Peers debated whether IPNAs should take account of religious or humanist beliefs and further the training requirements that could be imposed. Peers also probed ministers on the costs and savings of the Bill and Labour proposed that ASBOs be kept as an additional power. The government rejected this, saying they were ineffective and that the Bill brought in a suit of powers to enable swifter and more effective action to be taken.
Ministers also clarified that the Environment Agency should be able to apply to use the new injunctions.
The third day of committee on the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill (20 November 2013) began with the opposition spokesperson for the Home Office Baroness Smith of Basildon, making a complaint that the list of amendments to be debated had been received at "late notice" the previous day.
Amendments had been tabled on a wide range of issues including powers around excluding people from their homes when under the age of 18, tenancy injunctions and fly-tipping. A range of opposition amendments which sought to clarify and refine provisions on community protection notices and dispersal orders were discussed but withdrawn.
Peers considered the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill during its fourth day of committee stage on 25 November 2013. Measures to increase the period to respond to fixed-penalty notices and to add parish councils to the list of bodies that could be designated to issue criminal penalty notices were all withdrawn after government assurances.
Government amendments to require local authorities to publicise its intention to make a public spaces protection order were approved. Attempts to add additional requirements in this area by other peers were defeated.
A short debate was had on the duration of the orders, with the opposition and others stating they should be shorter than the three years set out. These amendments were not moved.
On the fifth day of committee, a range of amendments concerning closure notices and the implications of anti-social behaviour for tenancy agreements were discussed but eventually withdrawn.
Peers also considered the composition of community remedies, and in what circumstances the community trigger was activated. A government amendment to increase the maximum penalty for dog attacks was agreed to.
On 4 December, the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was debated in committee stage in the Lords for the sixth day. Peers presented amendments to: prevent those with a history of mental illness or violence from holding a firearms licence, create a new offence for attacking public facing workers, and to tighten regulation of high street shops selling legal highs; all of which were withdrawn following debate.
Government amendments to close current loopholes relating to the purchasing of antique firearms by convicted criminals and the holding of a firearms licence by someone convicted of a suspended sentence were agreed.
An amendment calling for a new law on proxy purchasing of cigarettes was rejected whilst government amendments were agreed on greater parliamentary scrutiny of the College of Policing decisions. The government explained why it might not always consult the policing pay and review bodies before making changes and there was "unanimity" on the need for a stronger, more independent Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) although the probing amendments were disagreed. A probing amendment on the government's commitment to the Security Industry Authority (SIA) was also rejected, whilst it reaffirmed it was indeed committed to the regulatory body.
Finally, a range of government amendments were discussed and agreed to, on provisions including the appointment of chief officers of police, police powers to tackle child sexual abuse in hotels, and the use of DNA and fingerprints in criminal investigations.