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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 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 9 May 2013.
In addition to the measures in the white paper, the Bill also reduces 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
The think-tank, London Councils, said that 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."
Whilst 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 subsequently 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 House of Lords 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 (2 December 2013), 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 2013, 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.
The final day of committee took place on 11 December 2013. A range of amendments dealing with border controls and powers of search and seizure at ports and airports were discussed but withdrawn. A government amendment introducing new powers for police and community support officers was agreed after a brief discussion, as was a new clause on the electronic transmission of European arrest warrants.
The Anti-social Behavior, Crime and Policing Bill was debated in report stage for the first day in the Lords on 9 January 2014. Peers voted in favour of an amendment tabled by the cross-bench peer Lord Dear, which changed the criteria for applications for an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance made by police or local authority acting in a capacity other than that of a housing provider.
Lords accepted a government amendment to remove from the Bill a provision that would prevent a court imposition prohibitions or requirements in an injunction or a criminal behaviour order which would conflict with the respondent's religious beliefs. An opposition amendment on defence for an application for an IPNA or for a criminal behaviour order was defeated
A government amendment was accepted enabling rules of court to be made which would allow an organisations applying for an injunction to seek permission from the youth court for the application against the adult alongside under-18s, if "in the interests of justice".
Peer also debated the presumption that a child will be named publicly in court and the virtue of imprisonment for under 18s, and opposition amendments on these were defeated.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was debated for the second day in report stage in the Lords on 14 January 2014. Opposition amendments concerning closure notices on premises used for child sex offences, and forced marriage, were discussed but withdrawn.
A range of government amendments were agreed, which included the creation of a new discretionary ground for re-possession of a property in cases where the tenant had committed offences connected with a riot. Labour tested the view of the House by moving an amendment to remove the clause dealing with new riot related offences altogether, but was defeated.
Labour also withdrew an amendment on proxy purchasing of tobacco products, after receiving assurances from the government that the Department of Health would continue to consider evidence related to the policy area.
The issue of dog control notices was raised again during this debate but an amendment to introduce them was defeated after a vote, with the government assuring peers the community protection notices would be just as effective. The government also rejected an attempt to extend protection to animals in addition to assistance dogs.
Further amendments on background checks when purchasing firearms, and on protecting those assaulted whilst in the workplace were also defeated, but a number of technical amendments on sexual harm prevention orders and sexual risk orders were accepted.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was debated in report stage for the third day in the Lords on 20 January 2014. Opposition peers tested the opinion of the House in regard to two amendments: the first concerned new provisions around Secured by Design building regulations, whilst the second would have required undercover police operations of three months or more to be subject to independent oversight. Both were defeated by a comfortable margin.
After a debate on an amendment concerning littering from vehicles the government committed to bring forward an amendment at third reading that would allow the secretary of state to implement through regulations a new regime of civil penalties.
Peers agreed an amendment to the Terrorism Act that ensured a detained person who exercised the right to consult a solicitor may not be questioned until they had consulted a solicitor or no longer wish to do so. New controls regarding the use of amplified noise equipment in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster were also agreed to.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was debated at report stage for the fourth day in the Lords on 22 January 2014. Peers voted in favour of an amendment concerning the conditions under which compensation would be paid to victims of miscarriages of justice, and also agreed to insert a new clause to abolish the defence of marital coercion.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill received its third reading in the Lords on 27 January 2014, and returned to the Commons for further consideration. A range of government amendments were agreed, on issues including the power to grant injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance (IPNAs), the use of premises for child sexual exploitation, on forced marriage, and littering from vehicles.
Whilst welcoming the government amendments and the passage of the Bill, the opposition noted the outstanding issue of compensation for miscarriages of justice, and hoped this would be resolved in the Commons.
Lords amendments to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill were considered in the Commons on 4 February 2014.
The House voted to retain the re-worked definition in the Bill of miscarriages of justice for the purpose of compensation. A wide-ranging set of Lords amendments were then agreed, including a two-tier test for applications for injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance, and powers to close of premises suspected of harbouring those who had committed child abuse. Members also agreed to abolish the defence of marital coercion.