1. The draft Anti-Social Behaviour Bill was published
on 13 December 2012. It is the Government's intention to tidy
up the tool-kit for dealing with anti-social behaviour (ASB) and
to involve victims and communities more directly in dealing with
2. Although interventions can be effective in
some cases, ASB continues to be a blight on many people's lives,
affecting communities across the country. ASB can take many forms,
both in the open and behind closed doors: people being drunk or
rowdy in public places, noisy neighbours, litter lying around,
vandalism, graffiti and damage to property, and people using or
dealing drugs. It can
affect individuals, businesses and public service providers such
as schools and hospitals, and can lead to spiralling crime and
decline in local communities.
It remains a significant problem and often under-reporteda
survey in Houghton and Sunderland South found that 50% of respondents
had reported ASB to the police or Sunderland Council, 40% had
not reported ASB to either and 10% had not experienced anti-social
3. There is broad recognition that ASB is the
responsibility of multiple agencies, including the police, local
councils, businesses and housing providers.
However, we heard many accounts of unacceptable delays in reaching
resolution and a sense of helplessness among victims who were
passed from agency to agency.
In some cases, ASB was considered victimless or trifling and simply
4. In particular, it is the cumulative impact
of continuous or repeated, low-level ASB that can cause some of
the most significant suffering among victims, but remains most
resistant to intervention by the authorities.
It can make people feel isolated and vulnerable, worsen mental
health problems and cause people to withdraw completely from their
work social lives.
In a few terrible cases, such as those of Fiona Pilkington
in Leicestershire and Dr Suzanne Dow in Broxtowe, persistent ASB
has been cited as a factor which contributed to victims taking
their own lives.
5. The current powers available to tackle anti-social
behaviour were considered by many witnesses to be effective when
used properly, but often slow and difficult to deploy.
Evidence from Police and Crime Commissioners and others showed
that dealing with ASB remains high on the public agenda, but stubbornly
difficult to carry out effectively.
In addition there is the problem of balancehow to
tackle problem behaviour without placing undue constraints on
perfectly reasonable behaviour. Most witnesses welcomed the proposed
reduction in the number and complexity of tools as a way of simplifying
and streamlining the process.
6. Antisocial behaviour continues
to trouble communities across the country. For some, it is no
more than a background irritation, but for others antisocial behaviour
can be a debilitating blight on their lives. It can corrode community
spirit, creating a breeding ground for more serious crime.
7. The current antisocial behaviour
control regime, though effective in some cases, leaves many people
frustrated by a slow and uncoordinated response. Persistent antisocial
behaviour, if it is not addressed quickly and conclusively, can
be mean months or years of misery for the victims. The impact
of anti-social behaviour on the individuals and communities affected
must not be under-estimated. Perpetrators continue to reoffend
and overall levels of antisocial behaviour are stubbornly high.
In this context, we welcome the Government's decision to review
and rationalise the statutory framework for dealing with ASB.
However, as we go on to explain in this report, dealing with ASB
depends on more than just the formal interventions availableit
depends on facilitating inter-agency working, providing support
services, and providing a speedy and predictable process through
the court system. If the Government is serious about tackling
ASB, then it will bring forward proposals on these as companion
measures during the Bill's eventual passage through Parliament.
Our pre-legislative scrutiny
8. The draft Bill follows a Home Office consultation,
More Effective Responses to Anti-Social Behaviour, in February
201; a white paper, Putting Victims First, in May 2012;
and a DCLG consultation, A New Mandatory Power of Possession,
August 2011. The draft bill is in seven parts:
- Part 1 makes provision for
a new, civil Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNA),
which replaces four current orders: the Anti-Social Behaviour
Injunction, drinking banning order on application, intervention
orders and individual support orders.
- Part 2 makes provision for an order on conviction
to prevent anti-social behaviour, to be called Criminal Behaviour
Order (CBO) and is designed to replace the Anti-Social Behaviour
Order (ASBO) on conviction. A CBO would be given on application
by the prosecution, in addition to a court sentence
- Part 3 contains power for the police to disperse
people whose presence or behaviour in an area they have reasonable
grounds to suspect has contributed or is likely to contribute
to ASB, crime or disorder.
- Part 4 covers new powers given to the police,
local authority and some housing associations to deal with community
protection and for these bodies to serve on individuals a Community
Protection Notice (CPN). It also contains provisions to close
properties associated with nuisance or disorder.
- Part 5 makes provision for the possession of
houses on anti-social behaviour grounds, including a new absolute
ground for possession.
- Part 6 of the bill contains provisions on establishing
a new "Community Remedy", which will allow victims of
anti-social behaviour to choose from a list of punishment options
(such as mediation, compensation to the victim or reparation)
and a "Community Trigger", which would launch a review
of a response to ASB when a certain locally-determined threshold
(such as five calls) is reached.
- Part 7 of the draft legislation contains general
Transitional arrangements would mean that existing
orders to deal with ASB continue in force after the bill comes
into effect, but cannot be varied or extended, and after five
years will come to an end. Figure 1 below shows how the draft
Bill will rationalise the 18 existing remedies against ASB into
Rationalisation of ASB tools
ELECTRONIC FORMAT OF THE DRAFT BILL
9. The draft Bill was published on-line as a
single-volume PDF file, incorporating both the text of the draft
Bill and the Explanatory Notes. However, whereas the Explanatory
Notes were published in a format which could be searched electronically,
copied and pasted, and put through text-to-speech software, these
features were disabled in the electronic text of the draft Bill
itself. These features are available when a Bill is published
on-line by the House, but draft Bills (which are in effect consultative
documents) are generally published as Command Papers and their
format is a matter for the Department concerned. We can see no
good reason for disabling these features, an act which presented
a minor inconvenience to all users but potentially a significant
and unnecessary obstacle to those who rely on text-to-speech conversion.
10. One of our witnesses complained about the
inaccessible format, which was not suitable for text-to-speech
software for people with impaired vision and had spent time using
optical character recognition software to produce some accessible
versions of the text of the draft Bill. He noted that this was
contrary to the principles set out in the Disability Discrimination
Act 2005 and the Equality Act 2010.
11. We recommend that the Leader
of the House of Commons ensure that in future all draft Bills
are published in a form in which the normal features of the chosen
format are enabled, so that users can make full use of search,
copy and paste, and text-to-speech features. This is not just
a matter of conveniencethough convenience alone is a compelling
argumentit is about providing information in the most accessible
12. While we welcome the opportunity to comment
on this legislation in draft form, we note the conclusion of the
Liaison Committee that if the Government is serious about the
role that pre-legislative scrutiny can play in making better legislation,
it needs to ensure that the committees tasked with conducting
that scrutiny are given a reasonable amount of time in which to
do it: a bare minimum of twelve weeks.
13. Publication of the draft
bill was delayed by over a month compared with the timetable initially
proposed to us by the Home Office. This left us just six working
weeks for our inquiry, an unacceptably short period for pre-legislative
scrutiny. This was a particular problem for witnesses, who in
effect had only the Christmas period to produce submissions to
us. It was clear from several responses to our call for evidence
that witnesses were basing their responses on the White Paper
and had not yet had time to reflect on the detail of the draft
Bill. Moreover, the Government will continue to consult on the
Community Remedy until 7 March 2013, so its position on this important
component of the bill is not yet formed.
2 Ev w1 [Paddy Tipping], addendum Back
Ev w74 [MOPAC], paragraph 4 Back
Ev w101 [Bridget Phillipson MP] Back
Ev w74 [MOPAC], paragraph 4; Ev w68 [Social Landlords Crime and
Nuisance Group], paragraph 3.2 Back
Ev 42, 45 [LGA], paragraph 4.2 Back
Ev w15 [Association of Convenience Stores], paragraph 11 Back
Ev w13 [John Dwyer] Back
Ev 38 [Victim Support], paragraph 1.3; Ev 42 [LGA], paragraph
2; Ev w95 [South Yorkshire Police] Back
Ev 34 [National Housing Federation], paragraph 3.1 Back
Ev w74 [MOPAC], paragraph 8; Ev w15 [Association of Convenience
Stores], paragraph 16; Ev w15 [Association of Convenience Stores],
paragraph 5 Back
Liaison Committee, The Work of Committees in 2008-09: Government
Response to the Committee's Second Report of 2009-10, 2 August
2010, HC 415, Government Response Back