2. Letter and memorandum from Rt Hon
David Blunkett MP, Home Secretary, to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 23 May regarding the
Anti-social behaviour Bill.
I believe that where the Convention rights are engaged
the proposals in the Bill are a balanced and proportionate response
to a pressing social need. All of the powers in the Bill are capable
of being exercised in a way that is compatible with human rights
in a broad sense and the balance struck between competing rights
and responsibilities can be objectively justified.
I am attaching at annex A detailed responses to your
questions. Also at annex B we have noted the representations we
have received in connection to this Bill in relation to human
rights, and provided a Government response to the issues raised.
2 June 2003
DETAILED RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS
This memorandum is submitted by the Home Office in
response to the request for comments on the Anti-social Behaviour
Bill in a letter from the Chair to the Joint Committee on Human
Rights to the Home Secretary of 23 May 2003.
The Home Secretary has made a statement under section
19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 indicating that in his view,
the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the Convention
rights. He believes that, where the Convention rights are engaged,
the proposals are a balanced and proportionate response to a pressing
social need and that the judgements he has made about the balance
to be struck between competing rights and responsibilities can
be objectively justified.
Many of the provisions in the Bill confer discretionary
powers on public authorities. In the Government's view, all these
powers are capable of being exercised in a way which is compatible
with the Convention. Those on whom the powers are conferred will
be obliged in accordance with section 6 of the Human Rights act
to exercise them in a way that is compatible with the Convention
This memorandum is in response to the specific questions
on the Bill raised by the Committee.
PART I OF THE BILL: CLOSURE ORDERS ON CRACK HOUSES
1. What protection would be available for the
rights, under ICESCR Article 11, of innocent parties, including
children, who are excluded from their homes as a result of other
Residents in premises which are the subject of a
closure notice are entitled to remain there until a closure order
is made by the court. The court may only make an order where it
is satisfied that the premises have been used for unlawful drug
use associated with disorder or serious nuisance to members of
the public and that an order is necessary to prevent future disorder
or nuisance. Residents will be served with notice of the hearing
and will be entitled to put their case to the court. In shared
accommodation, the order can relate to part only of the premises.
The court can also order access to any parts of the premises.
The details of persons and organisations that can
provide housing and legal advice will be contained in the closure
notice. The notice will where possible be served on residents
in person. Copies will also be fixed in prominent places on the
premises and in entrances to and exits from the building.
The homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing
Act 1996 as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002) places a general
duty on housing authorities to ensure that advice and information
about homelessness, and preventing homelessness, is available
to everyone in their district free of charge. This would include
people made homeless as a result of a closure order. The legislation
also requires authorities to assist individuals and families who
are homeless and apply for help. However, the duty owed to individual
applicants will depend on their circumstances.
In practice, this means that housing authorities
must ensure that suitable accommodation is available for people
who they are satisfied meet all of the following criteria:
eligible for assistance (certain persons
from abroad are ineligible for any assistance except general advice);
unintentionally homeless (where the applicant
has not brought homelessness on him/her self through their own
have a priority need for accommodation.
The priority need groups are set out in the legislation.
Broadly speaking they include households with children or a pregnant
woman; people who are vulnerable in some way (eg. due to old age,
a disability or mental health problems); homeless 16 and 17 year
olds; care leavers aged 18-20; people vulnerable because of time
spent in care, armed forces or custody, and people vulnerable
as a result of fleeing their home because of violence.
If people are homeless but do not have priority need
or if they have brought homelessness on themselves, the housing
authority must ensure they get advice and assistance to help them
find accommodation for themselvesbut they do not have to
ensure that accommodation becomes available for them. Therefore,
not all people made homeless as a result of closure of a crack
house will necessarily be provided with alternative accommodation
by the local housing authority although, as a minimum, they will
all be entitled to housing advicewhether they are
an innocent party or not.
Where a housing authority are dealing with a family
with a child under 18 who they think may be ineligible for assistance
or may be found to be homeless intentionally, they must make Social
services aware of the case. If social services decide that the
child's needs would best be met by helping the family to obtain
accommodation, they can ask the housing authority for reasonable
assistance in this, and the housing authority must respond.
Under the Children Act 1989 ("the Children Act"),
social service authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote
the welfare of children within their area who are in need. This
could include the children of persons who are ineligible for assistance
under the homelessness legislation or who are found to have made
themselves intentionally homeless. It is for the local authority
to assess the needs of the children and they have the power to
provide accommodation and other appropriate support for the children
and their families where they consider this is in the child's
best interests. This support can in exceptional circumstances
include money to provide essential items of food, clothing and
PART 2 OF THE BILL: TROUBLESOME TENANTS IN PUBLIC
2. Has the Government considered conferring power
on the local authority or some other body to take action, similar
to that envisaged under Part 2 of the Bill, against troublesome
private-sector tenants whose behaviour is affecting residents'
rights to private and family life and the home?
The powers in Part 2 of the Anti-social Behaviour
Bill are intended to amend existing legislation dealing with social
housing. The powers have been drafted to allow local authority
landlords, Housing Action Trusts and registered social landlords
the same powers as far as it is possible. However not all the
powers under Part 2 are limited to taking action against tenants.
For example clause 13 introduces new provisions in
relation to injunctions. As long as there is a link to the housing
management function of the social landlord an injunction may be
granted against anyone to protect the following groups of people
against anti-social behaviour, regardless of the perpetrator's
1. a person residing in housing accommodation
owned or managed by the relevant landlord
2. a person visiting the housing accommodation
or otherwise engaged in lawful activity in or in the locality
of the housing accommodation
3. a person employed by the relevant landlord
wholly or partly in connection with his housing management functions.
Therefore the committee's concerns are in part met
through the existing provision.
However, the provisions do not allow social landlords
to take action where there is no link at all to their housing
management functions; it would not be reasonable for social landlords
(in their landlord capacity) to seek to control behaviour in these
There are no current plans to extend these social
housing related powers to other bodies. However, a range of other
tenure-neutral tools, for example, anti-social behaviour orders
under Section 1 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 or injunctions
under Section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972, exist to deal
with anti-social behaviour where there is no link to social housing.
Provisions on the selective licensing of private landlords, which
appear in the draft Housing Bill, will also help to address anti-social
behaviour in the private rented sector.
The Draft Housing Bill contains measures to allow
local authorities, with the approval of the Secretary of State,
to designate areas for the selective licensing of private sector
landlords. The measures are aimed at improving management standards
in the private sector, including a requirement that those engaged
in the management of properties should be fit and proper. These
measures, while not targeted at antisocial behaviour alone will
allow a local authority to license landlords in low demand areas.
In addition, there will be proposals in the Housing Bill for the
Secretary of State to designate the extension of these powers
by regulation to enable local authorities in other areas with
specific problems to apply to license private sector landlords
within a specific locality.
PART 3 OF THE BILL: PARENTING CONTRACTS AND RELATED
3. Parenting contracts
The Government does not accept that parenting contracts
constitute an interference with ECHR Article 8.1 rights. There
is no compulsion to enter into such a contract and there are no
direct penalties for breach. Failure to sign a parenting contract,
or breach of the same, will not necessarily lead to an application
for a parenting order. Furthermore, a local education authority
or youth offending team can apply for a parenting order regardless
of whether they have previously engaged or attempted to engage
the parent in a parenting contract. Applications for parenting
orders will be heard by the Magistrates Court with a right of
appeal to the Crown Court.
If the provisions are within the ambit of Article
8, the Government considers that any interference is justifiable
within the meaning of Article 8.2 Answers to the Committee's specific
questions on this area are set out below.
(a) which legitimate aim or aims under Article
8.2 is or are thought to be advanced by the provisions of Part
3 of the Bill;
Parenting contracts and orders will advance the prevention
of disorder and crime, and the protection of rights and freedoms
of others. Depending on the circumstances, they may also advance
the protection of the health or morals of the children concerned.
The essence of the measures is to help parents so that they can
assume, or improve the extent to which they have assumed, the
responsibilities expected of them as parents. Evidence shows that
parents have a significant role to play in helping their children
move away from crime and anti-social behaviour.
The Youth Justice Board (2002) has found that those
who truant or are excluded from school are twice as likely to
offend as those who regularly attend. Furthermore, truancy, exclusion
& bad behaviour impinge on the ability of teachers to teach
and other pupils to learn. By reducing the level of offending,
and improving behaviour and attendance at school the rights and
freedoms of others are protected.
(b) why is there a pressing social need to take
the legislative steps proposed; and
Juvenile crime and anti-social behaviour represent
pressing social needs involving harm to victims, communities and
young people themselves. Truancy and exclusion from school cause
significant difficulty for the pupil in questionat a time
where nearly half of all children are achieving five or more good
GCSE's, only 8% of persistent truants achieve this standard and
around a third achieve no passes at all. Disruptive behaviour
and unauthorised absence can have a detrimental impact on other
pupils and teachers.
Studies show that early intervention, particularly
family based interventions, are more effective at preventing offending.
The recent Policy Research Bureau evaluation of the Youth Justice
Board parenting programmes (September 2002) has recommended that
these be made available at an earlier stage. The introduction
of parenting programmes under parenting contracts will give scope
for parenting support to be used as part of an early intervention
mechanism, allowing interventions to be made before the child's
behaviour becomes entrenched. Parenting support has been shown
to benefit both the child and the parent.
(c) why would the provisions be proportionate
to the need that has been identified?
Parenting contracts are voluntarily entered into
and, like parenting orders, are preventative, designed to help
parents improve their effectiveness in parenting their children,
move children away from crime and anti-social behaviour and to
focus on what needs to be done to improve their child's attendance
or behaviour at school. If the parent refuses this support or
fails to keep their side of the contract then this is relevant
evidence for the court to hear in considering whether to make
a parenting order.
Any interference in family life is very limited when
balanced against the important objectives of preventing youth
crime, truancy and misbehaviour at school. There is compelling
evidence that parenting orders achieve results. The Policy Research
Bureau evaluation found that 9 out of 10 parents would recommend
the support to a friend, and parenting orders contributed to a
50% reduction in reconviction rates of the children of parents
on a parenting order. Applying voluntary intervention at an earlier
stage in the child's offending career by means of parenting contracts
should support further reduction in re-offending.
PART 4 OF THE BILL: DEALING WITH GROUPS OF
PEOPLE IN PUBLIC PLACES
4. In the view of the Government
(a) what do the proposed measures add to existing
The Government believes that the proposed measures
add to existing powers by giving the police powers to disperse
groups of people who, by their behaviour or presence, may cause
intimidation, harassment, alarm or distress to others. They are
not dependent on the commission of criminal offences by any of
the individuals on the group or the apprehension of an imminent
breach of the peace. They will enable potentially threatening
situations in public places to be defused.
(b) what evidence there is for the proposition
that there is a pressing social need to provide for such additional
powers, and to provide for them to be exercisable by community
support officers as well as by constables?
There is evidence that communities around the country
are concerned about groups congregating and causing intimidation,
harassment, alarm or distress to others. For example, in 2000,
32% of respondents to the British Crime survey cited teenagers
hanging around in the street as a very or fairly big problem in
their area. The powers will only be available within designated
areas where anti-social behaviour is a significant and persistent
problem and where there is a history of members of the public
being intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed by groups of
The Government believes that it is important that
Community Support Officers (CSOs) have the same powers as their
police officer colleagues to disperse groups and to take home
children under 16.
One of the main roles of CSOs is to provide visible
community patrols. They will often be the first to the scene of
anti-social behaviour. We have already given CSOs several powers
to deal with anti-social behaviour, and given their role in our
communities, we believe they should also potentially have these
powers. CSOs are police employees under the direction and control
of chief officers.
5. What use has been made of the power under
the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 as amended by the 2001 Act?
There have no applications for local child curfew
schemes under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 as amended by the
6. What pressing social need is thought to be
served by the extensions provided for in Part 4 of the Bill?
Certain locations in some of our communities have
become well-known "trouble spots." This may be because
children and young people congregate there to indulge in drug-taking
or alcohol consumption. It may be because they have become prime
sites for fighting or for prostitution. These places present dangers
7. How will the new powers provide worthwhile
additional ways of addressing the pressing social need?
The Government believes that a the use of these powers
to take children home in areas where anti-social behaviour is
a persistent and significant problem is a proportionate and flexible
tool which the police, in consultation with the local authority,
may use where necessary to tackle such trouble spots. It will
protect children and young people from the risks of being out
late at night, including becoming involved in anti-social or criminal
behaviour and the risk of being drawn into criminal activities.
8. Why does the Government consider that such
additional powers would be proportionate to the aim pursued?
These new powers will only be available where an
authorisation has been made by an officer of at least the rank
of superintendent regarding a designated area. Before giving an
authorisation, the officer must be satisfied that serious and
persistent antisocial behaviour has occurred in the locality and
that intimidation, harassment, alarm or distress has been caused
to members of the public by the presence or behaviour of groups
in that locality. The senior officer must also consult the local
authority. The authorisation lasts for a specific period which
may not exceed 6 months.
Part 4 provides the constable or CSO with a power
(not a duty) to take the child home. It is for the police officer
or CSO on the ground to decide whether to use the power in relation
to any individual child or young person at the time. The use of
the power does not lead to any sanctions (criminal or otherwise)
against the child.
Further, the power to return home may only apply
to unaccompanied minors. Thus the rights of parents and families
to be with their children in public (at any time of day or night)
are completely preserved.
PART 5 OF THE BILL: ASBOS, CURFEW ORDERS AND CHILD
9. Why does the Government think that the new
arrangements would be proportionate to a pressing social need
so as to be necessary in a democratic society for the purpose
of Article 8.2, bearing in mind the range of other methods of
dealing with these problems already available to the courts?
Curfew orders with electronic monitoring or "tagging"
have proved very successful since their introduction nationally
for 10-15 year olds on 1 February 2001. More than 3,600 orders
have been made. The pilots of curfew orders for 10-15 year olds
between March 1998 and February 2000 demonstrated that they worked
well for juveniles. The reaction of the offenders and their families
was generally positive with the acknowledgement that in many cases
it may have kept the young offender out of custody.
Curfew orders take into account health, safety and
welfare issues. Before making a curfew order on an offender under
16, under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000,
the court must obtain and consider information about his family
circumstances and the likely effect of such an order on those
circumstances. The court must also consider, under the attitude
of persons likely to be affected by the enforced presence there
of the offender. In the case of persons under 16 this would normally
be the family.
The orders help to keep young offenders at home,
off the streets, and away from places at times where they may
be more likely to re-offend. They are often used as a last resort
before custody, and thus help to keep the family together. The
Government's view is that they are an appropriate and proportionate
response to offending by young people.
We are simply increasing the maximum period for a
curfew order for 10-15 year olds to up to 6 months and increasing
the intensive phase of the supervision order to up to 180 days.
Courts will retain discretion over the appropriate sentence length
which must be proportionate to the offence or offences.
The main reason for these changes is to strengthen
the Youth Justice Board's administrative Intensive Supervision
and Surveillance Programme (ISSP). ISSP is targeting serious and
persistent young offenders who would otherwise receive a custodial
sentence. The programme makes use of existing curfew and supervision
order legislation to provide a well structured and supervised
community alternative to custody. ISSP uses the curfew order to
closely monitor the offender's behaviour in the community whilst
the supervision order allows the young offender to be placed on
a programme designed to reduce the risk of further offending.
The Government wants to make ISSP even more credible
to the courts in order to divert away from custody those serious
and persistent offenders who could be safely managed and rehabilitated
in the community under close supervision. The changes in this
Bill will allow ISSP to be available for a total maximum of 12
months (6 months intensive, 6 months less intensive). Through
the use of such intervention we will help prevent further offending
by the young offender and ensure that custody is used only as
a last resort. It will also help to keep families together.
Guidance will be issued to the courts which will
ask them to consider the use of these extended curfew orders and
intensive supervision orders only for those on ISSP, or for the
most persistent and serious offenders who would otherwise have
received a custodial sentence.
10. How does the Government expect the responsible
authority to perform its functions under proposed new paragraph
5A of Schedule 6 to the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing)
The young person subject to a fostering requirement
will be a "looked after" child for the purposes of the
Children Act 1989. The local authority has a duty under the 1989
Act to promote contact between a "looked after" child
and the natural family. It is likely that the level of contact
will be far higher than if the young person had gone into custody.
It is also possible that as preparations are made to return the
young person home, they will be able to spend longer periods with
the family, possibly including whole weekends. Furthermore, the
requirement gives the local authority and Youth Offending Team
the flexibility to be able to determine the level of contact between
the young person and their family.
11. Why does the Government think that removing
a young child from his or her family for up to a year would be
justifiable in terms of Article 8.2?
The Government's view is that the fostering requirement
is a positive and childcentred response to serious and persistent
young offenders and offers a constructive and less damaging alternative
to custody. This intervention benefits the young person, the family
and the wider community and is justifiable in accordance with
Article 8.2 for the prevention of disorder or crime, the protection
of health and morals and the protection of the rights and freedoms
The fostering requirement as part of a supervision
order is intended to be a child centred alternative to custody.
It is available only in very tightly drawn circumstances, where
a young person would otherwise have received a custodial sentence,
and where their offending behaviour was due to a significant extent
to the circumstances in which they were living. This could include
poor parenting with insufficient supervision, a chaotic lifestyle
and criminal or anti-social influences.
The fostering provision provides the young person
with a caring stable home life with specially trained foster parents
who receive back-up support. This will often be the fist time
the young person has experienced a stable environment. An offender
subject to the fostering requirement will undertake structured
activities during the daytime, to tackle the causes of the offending
behaviour. And work would be undertaken with the natural parents
to improve the parenting skills to prepare for the young person's
return home. The fostering requirement will only last as long
as is necessary to reduce the risk of the young person re-offending.
If good progress is made then an application can be made to the
court to revoke the fostering requirement. When used with persistent
offenders aged 10 or 11 this early intervention could address
the child's offending and family problems, before the pattern
of offending is so entrenched that they are highly likely to end
up in custody.
PART 7 OF THE BILL: ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS
12. What are the Government's reasons for concluding
that clause 45, with its very limited safeguards, would be compatible
(a) ECHR Article 6.1
This clause allows an environmental health officer
to issue a closure notice in relation to licensed premises that
are causing a public noise nuisance. The notice only has effect
for a maximum of 24 hours and may be cancelled earlier if it is
no longer necessary to prevent a public nuisance. It is a temporary
measure and does not involve either the determination of civil
rights or of a criminal charge. In the Government's view, Article
6 has no application to these circumstances. Notification is given
to the licensing authority of the issue of a notice but any subsequent
steps by the licensing authority will be subject to normal court
procedures and article 6 safeguards.
(b) ECHR P1/1
The police already have the power to close premises
causing a public nuisance by noise. The Bill seeks to extend these
powers to the agency that have most experience in dealing with
noise nuisance. Environmental Health Officers are trained to assess
the level of nuisance being caused and it is therefore only right
that they should have the power to act in extreme circumstances.
In relation to Article I of Protocol 1, this power
is a control of use rather than a deprivation of property rights.
The temporary interference with the property rights of the licensee
strikes a fair balance between the public interest in controlling
noise nuisance and the protection of individual rights.
REPRESENTATIONS RECEIVED REGARDING HUMAN
In your letter of 23 May you asked for details of
representations received in relation to Human Rights. Listed below
are the four issues that have been raised by one or more organisation.
These relate to a general issue of definition, the production
of policies by housing authorities, parenting contracts and the
dispersal of groups. The Government response to each of the issues
raised is also provided.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC)
and Association of Chief Police Officers have raised a general
question about the definition of anti-social behaviour used in
There is no common definition of Anti-social Behaviour
in the Bill. Article 7 of ECHR stipulates that, if legislation
is to lay down criminal sanctions, then definitions must be sufficiently
clear so that people know precisely when they are committing an
offence. Such decisions cannot be left to the individual discretion
of police officers, nor can there be local variations of the law.
Not all parts of the Bill lay down criminal sanctions.
Many of the sanctions within the Bill are civil, not criminal,
and therefore are not covered by Article 7. However, every part
of the Bill that uses the term 'anti-social behaviour' in reference
to a sanction has a corresponding definition in legislation. These
generally follow that set out in the Crime and Disorder Act Section
behaviour by a person which causes or is likely to
cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more other persons
not of the same household as the person
This definition applies to:
Part 3, Parental responsibility. Anti-social
behaviour forms part of the criteria for entering into Parenting
Contracts or application for Parenting Orders by Youth Offending
Teams. The definition is contained in clause 28.
Part 4, Dispersal of groupsPersistent
anti-social behaviour is used as a test related to the authorisation
of an area for this power. An offence is only committed when an
individual knowingly contravenes a direction from an authorised
person. The Crime and Disorder Act definition was added to clause
35 through an amendment during Commons Committee stage.
Part 5, Sanctions. The Bill contains
amendments to the civil anti-social behaviour orders set out under
the Crime and Disorder Act where the above definition applies.
Part 2 of the Bill (Housing) is concerned with civil
remedies to prevent housing related anti-social behaviour. The
focus here is not on imposing sanctions on the perpetrator but
on protecting the victims.
The provisions in Part 2 relate to conduct:
a) which is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance
to any person, and
b) which directly or indirectly relates to or
affects the housing management functions of a relevant landlord.
The courts are given discretion to determine whether
a particular remedy is required to prevent further nuisance or
annoyance. The consequences may adversely affect the perpetrator,
for example an injunction may exclude the perpetrator from his
home, but the injunction is granted not to punish the perpetrator
but to protect the victim of his conduct from further harm. Consequently
in the Government's view Article 7 of the ECHR would not be engaged.
The focus in Part 2 is on the effect which the behaviour could
have on other people in the particular circumstances of the case.
The Government feels that a tighter statutory definition in this
context would not be useful.
Remaining parts of the Bill provide new sanctions
for existing offences such as the unlawful use, production or
supply of class A drugs, or those relating to graffiti and fly-posting
described in clause 49. Part 6 (Firearms) provides for specific
new criminal offences.
It is therefore clear in each individual case what
type of behaviour is subject to the sanctions set out in the Bill.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC)
have raised a question in relation to provision in part 2 for
all Local Authorities, Housing Action Trusts and Registered Social
Landlord's to prepare a policy on ASB, and procedures for dealing
There is no indication that tenants will have an
input into the development of the ASB policy. Policies should
be compliant with Article 8 of the HR Act.
Sections 105 of the 1985 Housing Act and section
137 of the Housing Act 1996 already require local authority landlords
to consult with their tenants on matters of housing management.
Anti-social behaviour in this context falls within housing management.
The Housing Corporation and the National Assembly for Wales as
regulators, also require registered social landlords to consult
Our intention is that any guidance issued by the
Secretary of State, the National Assembly for Wales or the Housing
Corporation under new section 21 8A(7) of the Housing Act 1996
will also cover consultation matters. The issue of such guidance
will also allow us to address issues in relation to Article 8
of the ECHR in more detail. However, we do not foresee any conflict
between the publication of such policies and Article 8 compliance.
3. PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC)
and the National Children's Bureau have raised issues in relation
to provisions in Part 3 that encourage the LEA or the governing
body of a school to enter into a voluntary Parenting Contract
when a child is truanting or has been excluded from school on
The parent signs to make a commitment to changing
a child's behaviour, yet the pupil, who is most directly affected
by this provision, is not required to contribute to the drafting
of the contract. This could be regarded as an intrusion into family
life, overriding Article 8 of the HR Act.
As stated in Annex A we do not think that parenting
contracts fall within the ambit of ECHR Article 8.1 because there
is no compulsion to enter into such a contract and there are no
direct penalties for breach. At the same time, we consider that
the provisions can be justified under ECHR Article 8.2. Parenting
contracts will advance the prevention of disorder and crime, and
the protection of rights and freedoms of others and may also protect
the health or morals of the child concerned. Any potential interference
with family life would be proportionate when balanced against
the important objectives of preventing truancy and misbehaviour
at school. In law, the responsibility clearly falls on the parent
to ensure that their child does not truant from school.
4. DISPERSAL OF GROUPS
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC),
National Children's Bureau have made representations related to
The power to disperse a group of 2 or more young
people is based on a subjective perception that they are behaving
inappropriately, and contravenes their right to freedom of association
(Article 11 of the HR Act).
It is for police officers on the ground to decide
whether to exercise the power to disperse. They must reasonably
believe that members of the public have been or are likely to
be intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distressed before giving
a direction. The good sense of police officers and the Code of
Practice issued under this Part of the Bill will ensure that these
powers are used appropriately. Section 6 of the Human Rights Act
will oblige them to exercise the powers only in a way which is
compatible with Convention rights.
The Government believes that the power to disperse
groups can be exercised compatibly with Article 11 of the ECHR.
Specific exemptions are made for lawful pickets and processions.
The powers pursue the legitimate aims of public safety, the prevention
of disorder or crime, and the protection of the rights and freedoms