Government concedes on Anti-social Behaviour Bill

Today the Government has tabled amendments to the Anti-social Behaviour Bill to remove the damaging definition of anti-social behaviour (ASB) – conduct “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance” – other than in housing related cases.

The Government amendments mean that ASB will continue to be defined as conduct causing “harassment alarm or distress”, except in cases related to housing, for the purposes of the new ASB injunctions (IPNAs).

This is in-keeping with existing law, which the Bill seeks to replace, and with the decision the House of Lords took when they debated the ASB definition earlier this month.

The SCYJ has been campaigning to change the definition of ASB with the Children’s Society,Criminal Justice Alliance, JUSTICE, Liberty and Reform Clause 1.

In response to the Government’s amendments, Penelope Gibbs, Chair of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, said:

“The SCYJ is really pleased that the government has decided not to fight peers’ opposition to the proposed definition of Anti-Social Behaviour as “conduct capable of nuisance or annoyance”. This definition was too broad and risked getting thousands more children unnecessarily in trouble with the law. We are still campaigning for the government to restrict the use of imprisonment for 14-18 year olds who breach the new injunction but we are hopeful this shows the government are willing to listen and adapt.”

 

Notes to Editors

1.The Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) is a membership organisation campaigning for a better youth justice system. We have over 30 organisations as members, a full list can be found here

2. The full Government amendments can be found here

3. For the purposes of ASBOs, the definition of ASB is “harassment alarm or distress”. Existing ASB orders for housing related cases (ASBIs) define ASB as “nuisance or annoyance”, these can only be used in a housing context. The Anti-social Behaviour Bill seeks to replace ASBOs with a new injunction (IPNAs). This injunction, which would be applicable to behaviour in any context, defined ASB as “nuisance or annoyance”. The Lords passed an amendment at Report Stage of the Bill, changing the definition of ASB for the purposes of the IPNA to “harassment alarm or distress”, other than in housing related cases where the “nuisance or annoyance” definition would remain. Today, the Government tabled its own amendments in-line with the Lords Report amendments.