Anti-social powers revised after ‘busybody’ claim

New guidelines on the use of anti-social behaviour powers have been drawn up to stop them being used on dog walkers and rough sleepers.

Campaigners argued the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 was being used as a “busybody” power because lawful and reasonable behaviour was being restricted in some cases.

Earlier this year it was revealed dozens of councils had imposed the measures, with hundreds of fines issued for playing music too loudly in cars and not having a dog on a lead.

The homeless, buskers, dog walkers and people gathering in small groups in town centres were incorrectly being targeted, charities and other groups found.

The revised guidelines state: “Given that these orders can restrict what people can do and how they behave in public spaces, it is important that the restrictions imposed are focused on specific behaviours and are proportionate to the detrimental effect that the behaviour is causing or can cause, and are necessary to prevent it from continuing, occurring or recurring.”

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Buskers have been fined for being anti-social

Image: Buskers have been fined for being anti-social

The Home Office is issuing the best practice guide to councils and police to ensure the powers are applied appropriately.

Officers have to make a judgement as to whether the behaviour is unreasonable, the guidance says.

“For instance, a baby crying in the middle of the night may well have a detrimental effect on immediate neighbours and is likely to be persistent in nature,” it says.

“However, it is unlikely to be reasonable to issue the parents with a Community Protection Notice if there is not a great deal that they can do to control or affect the behaviour.”

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, said: “Anti-social behaviour harms communities and can severely impact people’s way of life, which is why this Government introduced powers to make it quicker and easier to take action against the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour.

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“The powers should be used proportionately to tackle anti-social behaviour, and not to target specific groups or the most vulnerable in our communities.

“The revised guidance published today will empower local agencies by providing even greater clarity on where and when these powers should be applied, helping them to keep our public spaces, communities and families safe.”