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NEWS:Children face court action for being 'annoying'

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#1 OFFLINE   kenworthy


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Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:01 pm

Children could get in trouble with the law simply for being "annoying" under the Home Secretary's new scheme to replace Asbos, senior police, crime commissioners and councils have warned.Children could get in trouble with the law simply for being "annoying" under the Home Secretary's new scheme to replace Asbos, senior police, crime commissioners and councils have warned.

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The Government is planning to replace Asbos with a new system for dealing with anti-social behaviour Photo: JUSTIN SUTCLIFFE


A raft of senior police and civil liberty groups are worried that Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs) could be used against children as young as 10 for any behaviour "capable of causing annoyance" to another person.

The court orders are designed to be a tougher replacement for Labour's Asbos, which can only currently be taken out against people causing actual "harassment, alarm or distress".

However, there are fears they could be slapped on children - or adults - who have simply "annoyed" the neighbours, when the new powers come unto force under the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill.

In evidence to MPs, the Association of Chief Police Officers warns the new type of injunctions against children "have the potential to be used inappropriately" and "unnecessarily criminalise" them.

ACPO called on the Coalition re-think the draft legislation as it could lead people to expect legal action against children that is "not possible or appropriate".

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The IPNAs are a civil order which can be applied for by police, councils, the environmental regulator, some transport bodies and some NHS authorites on the "balance of probabilities" that someone's behaviour could cause nuisance or annoyance. Breach of the injunction will be a criminal offence that could ultimately result in a jail term for over-14s.
In evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, civil liberty groups warn that the new system risks undermining basic freedoms.
Nick Pickles, of the campaign group Big Brother Watch, said people who are annoying could include those canvassing for political parties or delivering junk mail.
Similarly, Preston City Council argues that the definition of causing nuisance or annoyance is "dangerously ambiguous". It said this should be amended to be "clearer about the thresholds of behaviour that would lead to injunctions being considered for people under 18."
John Dwyer, Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, also objected to the lower threshold.
"There is a need to consider the potential for over-reaction and misuse of the power," he said. "I support the retention of the 'harassment, alarm and distress' test rather than the lower threshold."
Sir Clive Loader, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, said the injunctions could help deal with repeated nuisance caused by "youths in the street" but it is in danger of being too "subjective".
"It is unclear how one persons interpretation of 'nuisance or annoyance' taken at its lowest, might impact on the rights of others to freedom of association and expression within the European Convention on Human Rights," he said.
The Standing Committee for Youth Justice also warned that the new system would "have a particularly detrimental effect on children".
Concerns that the new powers could be misused to punish people for trivial incidents come after the Government agreed to change the law to stop it being a crime to use "insulting" words.
Under the Public Order Act, police tried to try to convict a student who said “woof” to a police dog, and another who called a police horse ”gay”.
Earlier this month, the Government accepted an amendment to the law in the House of Lords, which removes the offence of being "insulting".
The move was backed by Rowan Atkinson, the comedian, who had warned that criticism, unfavourable comparison or “merely stating an alternative point of view” could be interpreted as an insult and lead to arrest.
Last night, a Home Office spokesperson said the courts will decide whether an injunction is a "proportionate and reasonable response".
"Persistent, targeted anti-social behaviour makes people's lives a misery and the draft Anti Social Behaviour bill is about giving victims who often feel powerless a voice.
"We want to ensure the police, councils and housing providers have faster, more effective powers and that victims have the right to demand these problems are dealt with."
My kid wakes me up at night, oh dear :)

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Edited by kenworthy, 29 January 2013 - 03:02 pm.

#2 OFFLINE   SimonT



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Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:49 pm

Don't be annoying then

#3 OFFLINE   tjp



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Posted 08 February 2013 - 01:58 pm

But Simon, what some members of the middle class class as "yoof being annoying" is young people meeting up with their friends, using a skate park, etc.

How is it right that they should face an ASBO for being a teenager?



#4 OFFLINE   marralass



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Posted 08 February 2013 - 02:21 pm

My local neighbourhood watch think that people playing a ballgame in their own garden is worthy of police action, because the ball sometimes goes out of the garden and there's no ballgames allowed in the street.

#5 OFFLINE   SimonT



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Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:26 pm

i get the impression that there will need to be something more than some footie being played for any action to be taken. 


getting an asbo on someone is like moving the earth so there should be little fear, especiallly  its police officers on the ground getting the evidence and building the file etc they are not going to waste their time on nonsense.


of course. if the pcc's decide that its a priority and impose targets or bind our hands then anyone if fair game. and if private companies are involved then any children trying to have fun but annoying anyone with money or influence will be getting dealt with on the most profitable manner. 

#6 OFFLINE   onthesquare28



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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:14 pm

Both interesting and good that ACPO and Civil Liberty Groups seem to agree on this.


My thoughts are that this is yet more draconian and unecessary legislation which will divert yet more police resources from tacking the more serious incidents (in the same way as PINs/HWs in realtion to Harassment Law currently does). The problem with such law is that it not only ends up providing the potental to criminalise anyone for anything but also makes OPs afraid to deal with petty misbehaviour (rather than bother the police), for fear of being caught by the law themselves.

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