House of Lords - Explanatory Note
Anti-Social Behaviour Bill - continued          House of Lords

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Part 7: The Environment

Noise

190.     Powers for environmental health officers to issue closure orders to premises causing excessive noise will generally be used where a local authority would normally issue an abatement notice. This is an emergency measure that is expected to operate as a deterrent in most cases. Additional costs to local authority are therefore expected to be minimal. Likewise additional costs to the courts are expected to be minimal (estimated to be in the region of £12k).

191.     Measures to tackle night noise are designed to give local authorities powers while removing the burden of duties and restrictions associated with those powers. Local authorities will be able to choose to use the fixed penalty notice regime in relevant cases where it is expected to be a faster, more cost-effective alternative than using their statutory nuisance powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The Government estimates that an average of 10 notices will be issued per local authority at minimal cost.

Graffiti and fly posting waste and litter

     192.      The total possible cost of the measures to issue fixed penalty notices for graffiti and fly posting, and extending local authority intervention powers to relevant land will be in the order of £35m in 2003/4 if the new powers are used by all local authorities. Costs will only be incurred by those local authorities that choose to use these powers. Costs are expected to fall year on year as fewer offences are committed, and use of these new powers are subsumed within local authority programmes. These measures are expected to result in a reduction in the incidences of graffiti and fly posting, and also a reduction in enforcement costs for local authorities and court costs resulting from prosecutions.

193.     The cost to local authorities of cleaning graffiti from property is not yet fully quantified. For that reason we will pilot the power on a limited basis before full commencement to establish the likely impact.

     194.     The cost of prosecuting those who illegally sell spray paints is estimated at £135k a year. There are expected to be benefits to local authorities in terms of reduced costs in cleaning graffiti and to the police as a result of a reduction in the number of arrests for defacing property with graffiti.

195.     In total, the Government estimates that the costs involved in the measures to tackle fly-tipping will amount to £21.4m in 2004/05 and £12.9m in 2005/06 if local authorities choose to use the powers that are being made available to them. The initial costs will be incurred by local authorities (£22.2m in 2004/05), the courts (£250k in 2004/05), and the police (£192k in 2004/05). There are expected to be benefits to the Exchequer from an increase in fine receipts (£500k in 2004/05) and to the Environment Agency in not having to deal with incidents in local authority areas (£1m). Costs are expected to fall in future years, as more funds are spent on prevention, better detection and more effective enforcement of fly-tipping legislation and less is spent on clearing up the illegally deposited waste. In time, the measures are expected to be cost-neutral. In addition, there are expected to be unquantified benefits associated with an improved environment, cleaner streets and fewer pollution incidents.

Part 8: Public Order and Trespass

     196.     The total court costs of clauses 59 and 60 measures is expected to be £100k a year based on an estimated 150 court cases a year. This includes costs to the Department for Constitutional Affairs related to court time and legal aid of approximately £ 77k. We expect an increase in the use of these powers by the police, but there is not expected to be a huge increase in costs to forces. Costs will be offset by the potential loss of significant investment in the country if companies who are targeted by activists seek to invest elsewhere.

     197.     As a result of clauses 61 to 65 there could be an increase in work for the criminal justice system in terms of increased numbers of prosecutions in the courts and financial implications for the duty solicitor scheme and legal aid fund. However, this power will be limited to areas where local authorities have adequate site provision and should be offset by the deterrent effect of a less restrictive eviction power and the savings in terms of preventing unauthorised encampments and the problems sometimes associated with them.

EFFECTS OF THE BILL ON PUBLIC SECTOR MANPOWER

198.     The effects on public sector manpower as a result of this Bill are expected to be minimal. Powers created by this Bill will be adopted by agencies operating within their existing roles and responsibilities.

SUMMARY OF THE REGULATORY APPRAISAL

199.     An Overall Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the Bill has been completed which assesses the cost to business, charities and voluntary bodies at between £16m and £35m a year and identifies the benefits as being measures which will help reduce anti-social behaviour, crime and the fear of crime. The specific RIAs are:

  • Measure to restrict the sale of aerosol spray paints to persons under the age of 18.

  • Amendments to existing Firearms legislation so as to ban the sale, distribution, manufacture and import of weapons using the self-contained air cartridge system, and to impose a licensing system on those people who already possess them.

  • Changes and amendments to Firearms legislation aimed at reducing offences involving the misuse of air weapons and imitation weapons.

  • Closure of properties causing nuisance through the supply or use of Class A drugs.

  • Environmental Health Officer power to close licensed premises causing a noise nuisance.

200.     These full RIAs of the costs and benefits that this Bill would have are available to the public from the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit, Home Office, 5th Floor, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1P 2AW (telephone number 020 7273 2698) or can be found on the Home Office website.

             EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

201.     Section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 requires the Minister in charge of a Bill in either House of Parliament to make a statement before Second Reading about the compatibility of the provisions of the Bill with the Convention rights (as defined by section 1 of that Act). The Baroness Scotland of Asthal has made the following statement under section 19(1)(a) of that Act:

         "In my view the provisions of the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill are compatible with the Convention rights."

202.     Part 1 of the Bill raises issues under Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and Article 1 of Protocol 1 (right to property) of the Convention. In the Government's view, any interference with Article 8 rights will be justifiable as sufficiently precise and accessible to be in accordance with the law and to pursue legitimate aims within the meaning of Article 8.2, in particular the prevention of disorder and crime and the protection of the rights and freedoms of other persons in the neighbourhood. The measures are intended to close a gap in the current law dealing with the use of such properties and the serious nuisance and disorder which results. While those involved in drug dealing may be prosecuted under the Misuse of Drugs Act and actions for eviction may be taken against tenants, there is currently no provision for rapid closure of the property. A range of procedural safeguards are provided. The police, local authorities and courts are all public authorities for the purposes of section 6 of the Human Rights Act and will therefore be under a duty to use their powers in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights.

203.     In relation to Article 1 of Protocol 1, these proposals constitute a control of use rather than a deprivation of property rights. The interference with property rights involved strikes a fair balance between the public interest and the protection of individual rights. Although in the Government's view there is no obligation to provide compensation to those adversely affected, there is provision for compensation to be awarded by the court in appropriate cases.

204.     The provisions in Part 2 dealing with action to tackle anti-social behaviour which relates to or affects social housing may also give rise to issues under Articles 6 (fair trial), and 8 and Article 1 of Protocol 1. The Government's view is that the powers and procedures set out in Part 2 are a necessary and proportionate response to the anti-social behaviour concerned. They contain a range of procedural safeguards and are justifiable in accordance with Article 8.2 in the interests of public safety, the prevention of disorder and crime and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

205.     In relation to Article 1 of Protocol 1, injunction orders will not in themselves be a deprivation of property rights. The interference with property rights involved will be justifiable in the interests of the wider community. Demotion procedures may result in a deprivation of property rights but the Government is satisfied that there are sufficient safeguards to ensure that orders are only granted where they are a proportionate response to the conduct concerned and are necessary to protect the rights of others.

206.     In relation to Article 6, the Government's view is that decisions on demotion may entail determination of a civil right and that the composite procedure of an administrative decision and an appeal to the courts is compatible with Article 6.

207.     The provisions of Part 3 of the Bill relating to parenting contracts and orders may engage Article 8 rights to family life. Their purpose is to reduce truanting, anti-social behaviour and criminal conduct by young people and in the Government's view the powers are justifiable in the interests of the prevention of disorder and crime, the protection of health or morals and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Although a requirement under a parenting order to attend a residential parenting course may constitute an interference with family life, it may only be imposed where the court is satisfied a non-residential course would be less effective in addressing the child's behaviour and where any interference is proportionate in all the circumstances.

208.     The power to disperse in Part 4 may give rise to issues under Article 5 (liberty), 8, 10 (freedom of expression) and 11 (freedom of association). In the Government's view the power will involve a restriction on freedom of movement rather than a deprivation of liberty. Article 5 rights will only be engaged in the case of an arrest for failure to comply with a direction. In that case, deprivation of liberty will be justified under Article 5.1c (lawful arrest on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence).

209.     In relation to Articles 8, 10 and 11, given the safeguards provided, including the requirements for prior authorisation and publicity, the Government believes the powers can be exercised compatibly with the Convention and that they pursue the legitimate aims of public safety, prevention of disorder and crime, protection of health or morals and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. Specific exemptions are made for lawful pickets and processions and to prevent a direction being given which would prevent someone returning to their home. A code of practice will be issued to the police about the exercise of these powers. As in relation to earlier measures, the police will be obliged by section 6 of the Human Rights Act to exercise these powers in a way which is compatible with the Convention.

210.     The Part 6 amendments to firearms legislation may also give rise to issues under Article 8 and Article 1 of Protocol 1. They are however a response to crime and injury caused by use of the weapons concerned. As such, they can be justified in the interest of public safety, the prevention of crime and disorder and the protection of the rights of others.

211.     The provisions of Part 8 dealing with public order and trespass may raise issues under Articles 8, 10 and 11 of the Convention. The police power under section 14 of the Public Order Act to give directions to those engaged in public assemblies may only be exercised in circumstances where a senior police officer has reasonable grounds to believe it may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property, serious disruption to the life of the community or that the purpose of the organisers is to intimidate others with a view to compelling them to behave in a particular way. The offence under section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and the power to give directions under section 69 are only exercisable where person are trespassing on land and taking action intended to intimidate others with a view to deterring, obstructing or disrupting them from engaging in a lawful activity. The Government therefore believes that any interference there may be will be justifiable within the terms of Articles 10.2 and 11.2 in the interests of the prevention of disorder or crime and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

212.     Although the additional power to direct trespassers to leave land in Part 8 may give rise to issues under Article 8, it is only exercisable where there is an alternative site available in the area. The exercise of the power may compel the person to whom the direction is given to leave a temporary residence. But there is no Convention right to take up residence as a trespasser and there will be an alternative place of residence available. If there is an interference with Article 8.1 rights, it will in the Government's view be justifiable in accordance with Article 8.2 for the rights and freedoms of others.

213.     The powers in Part 8 are subject to substantial safeguards. The police and the courts will be under a duty to ensure that they are exercised in a proportionate way which is compatible with the Convention rights.

COMMENCEMENT

214.     Clause 57 contains provisions relating to the coming into force of the Bill. The Bill's provisions will be brought into force on dates appointed by the Secretary of State or, where specified, by the National Assembly for Wales by commencement order.

 
 
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Prepared: 27 June 2003