Legal powers against anti social behaviour
What is anti social behaviour?
Anti social behaviour (ASB) is a broad term used to describe day to day incidents of crime, nuisance and disorder that makes people’s lives a misery – from litter and vandalism, to public drunkenness or aggressive dogs, noisy or abusive neighbours.
Such a wide range of behaviours means that responsibility for dealing with ASB is shared between a number of organisations, particularly the police, local authorities and registered providers (RPs) like Magna Housing.
What are the legal powers?
In 2014, the ASB Crime & Policing Act came into force. Its aim was to introduce simpler and more effective powers to tackle ASB and to provide better protection for victims and communities.
The Act includes six powers. We are able to apply for some of these powers, with the police and local councils taking responsibility for the majority of the others such as:
• Criminal Behaviour order – this is issued by a criminal court against a person who has been convicted of an offence and is causing ASB
• Dispersal Power – this allows police officers to issue orders to a person who is causing alarm or distress to leave a specific area for up to 48 hours
• Community Protection Notice- your council or local police can issue this notice for a wide range of problems such as messy gardens, littering and noise nuisance
• Public Spaces Protection Order- this is an order obtained by your local council to protect a public area to prevent nuisance eg ensuring dogs are walked on a lead in a public park, or preventing begging in a high street
• Closure Power- this is a court order which closes down premises that are causing nuisance and disorder. The police or your council apply for this.
We work with other organisations to achieve the best results we can for victims of anti social behaviour.
The Civil Injunction power was introduced in March 2015 and replaced anti-social behaviour injunctions (ASBIs) and anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs).
An injunction will be granted by a court if they are satisfied that the behaviour is causing a ‘nuisance or annoyance’ to neighbours or the community, and that it is just and convenient in order to prevent the anti-social behaviour.
The injunction can be used where a perpetrator has allowed another person to engage in ASB, so it can be used against family members, lodgers or visitors to an address, not just the tenant.
This new injunction also introduced the option for courts to tell the offender they had to do something specific to try to change their behaviour, for example, attend a drug counselling course or parenting sessions.
New Possession (eviction) powers
The new legislation also introduced five mandatory (compulsory) conditions under which landlords can apply to evict a tenant who has been causing ASB. The tenant must have been:
1. Convicted of a serious criminal offence
2. Found by a court to have breached an Injunction obtained under the new legislation
3. Convicted of a breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order
4. Convicted of a breach of a noise abatement notice
For this to apply, the offence or ASB must have been committed either at their home or in the area around their home. It must also have affected a person who lives in the locality.
If a tenant’s property has been closed under a closure order obtained under the new legislation, this is also a mandatory ground for possession.
The new changes to the eviction powers can therefore have serious consequences for those tenants whose behaviour is extreme enough or us to seek an Injunction against them. Not only does it mean that a court has powers to impose things that a tenant has to do as well as not do, if the injunction is breached then a judge has no option but to also give Magna Housing possession of the property back.