Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 is the law that guides agencies in what they can do about anti-social behaviour by not only making big changes as to how it can be dealt with but by making it simpler and faster to do so. Ultimately victims of anti-social behaviour can now demand a review of their situation where nothing seems to have been done, with the law setting out the following 6 tools that agencies can use:
- Injunctions: These can be used to stop someone from doing the behaviour that is causing distress. There are two tests: causing nuisance and annoyance in a residential setting; causing harassment, alarm or distress elsewhere.
- Criminal Behaviour Orders: These are issued by the courts when someone is already convicted of a criminal offence and the court thinks they will continue to cause anti-social behaviour if not restricted by the order. The person would be banned from certain activities or places, and would also be required to address their behaviour, for example by attending a drug treatment programme. A breach could see an adult face up to five years in prison;
- Police Dispersal Powers: These allow the police to send people causing anti-social behaviour away from a public place, resulting in short-term respite to the local community. Because this is a preventative power it also allows an officer to remove any items being used to cause the ASB.
- Community Protection Notices and Orders: These allow local authorities and police to stop ongoing environmental anti-social behaviour, such as graffiti, neighbour noise or rubbish dumping on private land. They can be used against individuals or organisations.
- Public Spaces Protection Order: These allow a local council to deal with a particular nuisance or problem in a public area that is detrimental to the local community’s quality of life by imposing universal conditions on the use of that area. It can tackle issues like dog fouling and restricting the consumption of alcohol;
- Closure of Premises: This allows the police or local council to close premises where anti-social behaviour has been committed, (or is likely to be committed) and is used to prevent someone entering a building that has become the site of a lot of anti-social behaviour or may become one. This could be a house, a pub, etc.
It is Part 5 of this Act (recovery of possession of dwelling houses: anti-social behavour grounds) which amends the Housing Act 1988 and deals with the new grounds for possession relating to Assured Tenancies (of which the Assured Shorthold Tenancy is a subset).
This new ground provides that the court must give possession if any one of 5 conditions are met:
- The tenant and/or another occupier or visitor has been convicted of a serious offense and that offense took place in or near the property; or elsewhere but against a tenant/occupier of the property; or against the landlord or agent (notice must be served within 12 months of the conviction);
- The tenant/occupier or visitor has breached an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance (which is a new injunction to be introduced under this act);
- The tenant/occupier or visitor has breached a criminal behaviour order (also new order under this act) and that breach was in or near the property, or caused or was likely to cause harassment to a tenant/occupier or landlord/agent, wherever it took place (notice must be served within 12 months of the conviction);
- The property has been closed down under s73 of the 2014 Act (guidance). The court has a power to prohibit entry to a property where the use of the premises has resulted in or likely to result in serious nuisance to members of the public (within 3 months of the closure order);
- The tenant is in breach of an abatement notice relating to statutory nuisance (breach of Environmental Protection Act 1990 or noise nuisance (notice must be served within 12 months of the eviction).