ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR BILL
QC, MINISTER OF
Thank you for your Committee's careful scrutiny of
the delegated powers within the Anti-social Behaviour Bill. We
were very pleased to hear that you feel that each of the delegations
are appropriate and subject to an appropriate level of Parliamentary
scrutiny. I am writing to respond to the three areas where you
raised questions in your report.
Clause 39 (3)
As was stated in our previous memorandum, the possibility
of the introduction of penalty notices for disorder means that
a power is necessary to allow parents or guardians to be liable
for that penalty. As their parents have a responsibility to take
proper care and control of them it is therefore appropriate for
parents to assume the responsibility for the payment of the penalty.
The Government understands fully the Committee's
concerns about including safeguards for parents who may be faced
with payment. I would like to reassure the Committee that the
procedures will include safeguards similar to those in section
137 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. The
parent or guardian will therefore have the opportunity to request
a hearing in any provision which we make for them to be liable
Clause 49 (11)
This section refers to the setting of the level of
penalty for a fixed penalty notice for graffiti or fly-posting.
The Committee has suggested that a maximum limit for the notice
is set, similar to that contained in section 3 of the Criminal
Justice and Police Act 2001. We do not consider it appropriate
to consider such a limitation.
The power contained in clause 49(11) is consistent
with other legislation giving powers to local authorities and
others for the issuing of fixed penalties for environmental crimes:
notably, sections 88(6) and (7) of the Environmental Protection
Act 1990 in respect of littering offences, and (applying those
same sections) the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 in respect
of dog fouling.
We wish to ensure that a similar power is available
in respect of fixed penalty notices in respect of minor graffiti
and fly posting offences so that the Government applies a fair
and consistent approach to the issuing of fixed penalty notices
for all such environmental offences. Such a consistent approach
will also be beneficial to local authority staff, Police Community
Support Officers or other 'Accredited Persons' who would be responsible
for the issuing of such penalties.
The penalty notice in clause 23 is an alternative
to prosecution for the offence of failing to secure regular attendance
at school of a registered pupil. Payment of the penalty will discharge
any liability for conviction for the school attendance offence
to which the penalty relates. The Committee have suggested that
there should be some limitation on the level of penalty, again
we do not feel this is appropriate.
Prosecution for the offence can lead to a fine of
up to £1000 but in practice we believe that most fines imposed
are in the region of £50-100. Our intention, in setting the
level of penalty (£25-£100) was to reflect the usual
levels of fine imposed by Magistrates Courts.
We consider that the penalty notice scheme will only
work satisfactorily if there is a reasonable relationship between
the penalty and the level of fine normally imposed and, as the
Committee intimated in the context of clause 49, this will of
itself impose a ceiling on the penalty. Consequently we do not
consider it necessary to have an express limitation in the Bill.
I am copying this letter to the members of the Select
Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform.
8 September 2003