November 11, 2013
The UK Government is about to pass legislation which will make any behaviour perceived to potentially ‘cause nuisance or annoyance’ a criminal offence. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill also grants local authorities, police and even private security firms sweeping powers to bar citizens from assembling lawfully in public spaces. The Bill has successfully passed through the House of Commons without issue, and is now in the latter stages of review by the House of Lords, after which it will receive Royal Assent and become Law. Those who refuse orders under the new rules will face arrest, fines and even prison time.
Since the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which introduced Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) the government has invented and legislated for a litany of such orders covering everything from dog poo to drug addiction, including but not limited to: Control Orders; Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Orders; Intervention Orders; Crack House Closure Orders; Premise Closure Orders; Brothel Closure Orders; Gang Related Violence Injunctions; Designated Public Place Orders; Special Interim Management Orders; Gating Orders; Dog Control Orders; Letter Clearing Notices; Noise Abatement Orders; Graffiti/Defacement Removal Notices; Directions to Leave and Dispersal Orders.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, purports to simplify this legacy of New Labour’s legislative promiscuity. In reality, it creates a series of wildly ambiguous, generic orders which grant officers of the state and private sector even greater powers to issue tougher sentences, with fewer checks and balances to protect citizens.