These articles over the next two weeks are about managing people in our communities who present a risk to members of the public and how the police, local authorities and housing associations (social housing providers) can reduce risk and prevent offending.
Under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, there are various ways in which people whose behaviour has an adverse effect on a community can be managed.
Whether a person`s behaviour is in a public place, such as a town centre, or it is in a residential area, if their behaviour is not dealt with, then business suffer and the quality of life in your neighbourhood is badly affected.
Many of our town centres have homeless people, some who are substance users and act in an anti-social manner. This has a detrimental effect on businesses, mainly retail, and the members of the public who use the towns.
Being homeless is not a crime or anti-social, but in some cases it is the behaviour where the problem lies.
Typical behaviour might include begging or abusive language. When this occurs in the presence of the public, they are understandably put off from using the town, leading them to go to other nearby towns in their area, leaving the affected towns with less business.
Where poor behaviour occurs in residential areas, it is people who live in houses or flats who are either anti-social themselves, or who allow visitors to act in this way.
Although there are no financial affects in a residential are in the way that a town community suffers, when people`s quality of life is affected on a regular basis, it becomes quite unbearable.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 gave the police, councils and social housing providers powers to deal with these problems.
Usually the first step is the issuing of a Community Protection Notice (CPN) warning letter which informs the person who is causing the problem to stop what they are doing.
This letter will clearly state what type of behaviour someone must stop and when they must stop – this can be immediate, for instance, in the case of begging. Should they continue, then a CPN can then be issued.
The CPN will usually have the same information on it as the warning letter, but the difference is that any breach of the CPN is a criminal offence which can be dealt with by the magistrate court.
CPN`s can be issued to people aged 16 years or over and they can be quite effective in managing someone`s behaviour since no criminal offence is needed to happen, so they are designed to deal with a person`s behaviour, not an offence they have committed.
Any breach of the CPN will usually result in a fine, or the forfeiture or seizure of items, such as portable music equipment if this is the cause of the problem.
For people who becomes more persistent, or who commit certain types of crime on a regular basis, then Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBO`s) can be issued.
These Orders can lead to quite severe sentences in the court should they be breached, so they apply to the more persistent offenders and the people who commit crime.
A CBO can be served on someone aged 10 years or over. This may seem very young, but it is aligned to the age of criminal responsibility.
It is unusual for someone very young to be issued with a CBO, however, on occasions there are young people who commit crime from a very young age, therefore if it is justified and proportionate to issue a CBO, then the law caters for this.
Any agency or authority who uses a CPN or CBO to manage a person`s behaviour will need to show to a court that all reasonable efforts have been made to stop them, such as warning letters and the offer of support, such as substance misuse, when this applies.
This is important because the underlying cause of someone`s behaviour needs to be addressed, which may solve the problem, but if it does not, then CPN`s and CBO`s may become necessary.
A CPN will include positive requirements, such a substance misuse engagement, but it will clearly state what is prohibited too, such as loitering by a cashpoint in the case of begging.
These measures will not solve all the problems in a community. Where breaches happen it is down to the issuing court what sentence is imposed, but for people who are willing to receive help and who are deterred by a possible prison sentence, they can work and certainly reduce the anti-social problems which blight our communities.
Next week I will write about some other orders which are designed to deter people who present other risks to a community, such as sexual.