Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

Letter from the Rt Hon Damian Green MP (Home Office) to Stephen Phillips QC MP (ASB 47)


I am writing to follow up the debate in Committee on 4 July on your new clause 1 (Official Report, columns 317-324), which sought be make further provision in respect of the community remedy document. Towards the end of the debate you acknowledged that the new clause might be unnecessary if, given that it had to be agreed by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the chief constable, "it would be a breach of some code of conduct for a chief officer to agree a punishment that breached someone’s human rights".

As I indicated in the debate, the Bill allows for Police and Crime Commissioners to exercise discretion as to what actions would be appropriate to include in the community remedy document for their local area. I also indicated that we were keen to maintain as much flexibility as possible in this regard, for example, to encourage and support local innovation, but pointed to the fact that the document must be agreed with the chief officer of the police force. In discharging their functions under clause 93 of the Bill, as with their other public functions, Police and Crime Commissioners and chief constables will be aware of, and be bound by, their duty under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which provides that it is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right. In the case of a chief constable, this is reinforced by the declaration all persons make on being attested as a constable which includes a commitment to uphold "fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people".

I believe that the community remedy will make community justice transparent to victims and the public, with proportionate and meaningful punishments. I hope I have reassured you that use of the community remedy will not expose the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and low-level offences to inappropriate or unfair punishments and that accordingly it is unnecessary to prescribe further in the legislation the content of the community remedy document. However, as I said in the debate, we will be issuing non-statutory guidance on all the anti-social behaviour provisions in the Bill.

I am copying this letter to the other members of the Public Bill Committee.

July 2013

Prepared 17th July 2013