Westminster Labour Councillors support cross party initiative to amend the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

Labour Councillors have written to Norman Baker MP, Minister of State for Crime Prevention and Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Criminal Information at the Home Office urging them to support Lord Flight’s amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, as part of a cross-party initiative to make the proposed new Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs) effective in combatting anti-social behaviour that is persistently and deliberately blighting local communities.

Dear Mr Baker and Lord Taylor

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

I am writing on behalf of Westminster City Council’s Labour Group to support Lord Flight’s amendment to the Bill which is being debated on Wednesday 20th November. The background to the Bill is as follows;

• Local areas need a the right set of powers and legislative tools to protect local communities from anti-social individuals and groups
• Parliament should not settle for an Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill which creates more problems than it solves.
• The reform should do more to tackle anti-social behaviour not less.
• Different areas have different problems. City/town centres suffer from different types of anti-social behaviour from residential areas or rural areas. The Bill must recognise this.

The reason that I and my colleagues are supporting Lord Flight’s amendment is because the proposed Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs) need automatic powers of arrest attached to them in a wider set of circumstances in order to be effective. In particular, automatic powers of arrest will provide a deterrent and it will ensure that those who are persistently and deliberately blighting local communities without committing individual criminal offences can be properly held to account and their behaviour dealt with.

This is particularly important in city centre locations such as Westminster, Birmingham and Nottingham. Anti-social behaviour which sits at the border between high-level ASB and low level criminality, such as aggressive begging, will practically result in the imposition of IPNAs in an attempt to deter activity. If a person breaches the conditions of their IPNA, the local authority would have to take the evidence of breach back to a court or judge and request a warrant of arrest. In the case of IPNA breaches where the individual has no fixed UK address, it will be impossible to track that person’s whereabouts and a power of arrest obtained after much bureaucratic process would effectively be useless if that person leaves the country.

Lord Flight’s amendment does not ask for a blanket power of arrest. The Bill should be amended to better reflect and recognise the particular challenges faced in the UK’s major cities like Westminster and specifically enable a court to grant IPNAs with automatic powers of arrest in a wider variety of circumstances.

We ask you to support Lord Flight’s proposed amendment to Part 1, Section 3 sub-section 1 of the draft Bill to include an additional condition as follows:

“(1) (c) the anti-social behaviour in which the respondent has engaged or threatens to engage consists of intentional or deliberate anti-social behaviour of a potentially persistent nature”

The Home Office may wish to attach limitations to this such as the condition only applies in certain areas e.g. city centres. Local authorities could be required to apply for designated areas within which the condition applies, this may be the whole local authority area in the case of the City of Westminster or smaller sections of a local authority area in more mixed urban/rural areas. This would be place more power in the hands of local government to make the right decisions for their communities.

Conservative and Labour Councillors on Westminster City Council are united in their support for Lord Flight’s amendment and I urge you to support the amendment so that we can get this legislation right from the start.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group

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