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Stricter measures could be introduced to target anti-social behaviour and offenders

New measures up for public consultation

New measures could be introduced to tackle anti-social behaviour, including the introduction of a Criminal Behaviour Order, intended to be used to tackle the most serious and persistent offenders

The Department of Justice has launched a public consultation inviting opinion on a number of proposals.

Working in partnership with the PSNI, reforms under consideration include measures to address persistent offending; a facility to place restriction on public places; powers to provide police or local council to close premises that have been a source of public disorder; and noise nuisance powers to allow the seizure of items linked to annoyance.

Permanent Secretary for the Department of Justice, Nick Perry said: “We strive to have a community where we respect the law and each other.

“Those involved in anti-social behaviour not only demonstrate a lack of respect for others, their selfish actions are often linked to on-street drinking and in some cases drug activity.

“While our efforts remain strongly focused on early intervention and diversion, it is also important to ensure that the legislative framework remains appropriate.

“I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to contribute to the consultation and I would particularly encourage people who have been affected by anti-social behaviour to share their views on the proposals.”

The term ‘anti-social behaviour’ is used to describe a broad range of nuisance and inconsiderate behaviours that can blight the quality of life of an individual, family, local group or a community.

Statistically, Northern Ireland can be considered to be one of the safest places to live in Europe, with levels of crime and anti-social behaviour being generally lower than other comparable regions.

The reforms could see the introduction of a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO), which is intended to be used to tackle the most serious and persistent offenders where their behaviour has brought them before a criminal court. The CBO can include prohibitions or requirements or both, which should aim to tackle the underlying causes of the offender’s anti-social behaviour and be tailored to the specific need of each offender.

Following consultation with the local police and other relevant bodies, a local council would be able to issue a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), which would place restrictions or requirements on any public space within that council’s area, and on those using that space. Police officers or council officers can be called in to issue a fixed penalty notice on anyone deemed to have failed to comply with the provisions of a PSPO.

A Closure Power is a fast and flexible power designed to allow the police or a council to close quickly premises that have been a source of public disorder or nuisance, or are considered likely to be such a source. To breach the initial Notice or court Order would be a criminal offence and can lead to a prison sentence of up to three months for breaching the original Notice, or up to six months for breaching the court Order.

Powers of Seizure would give the police and other agencies authority to seizure items causing annoyance by the anti-social playing of, for example, musical instruments, radios and televisions.

The consultation will remain open until Tuesday, June 12. Details can be found at: https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/consultations/review-anti-social-behaviour-legislation-northern-ireland

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