The media is full of stories about local communities that have been blighted by anti-social behaviour – people whose lives are miserable of a result of vandalism, threatening behaviour and nuisance neighbours.
But what if it is your child who is behaving anti-socially? What if it is your teenage son or daughter who is terrorising the neighbourhood?
First, it’s important not to over-react. There are many reasons why a young person might behave in an anti-social manner, including substance misuse, peer pressure or bullying.
Anti-social behaviour can also be an indication of a mental health issue.
Certain kinds of anti-social behaviour are crimes and alleged offenders will be dealt with appropriately, depending on their age.
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 replaced Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) and a range of other orders with new ways of combating anti-social behaviour:
- Civil injunction
- Community Protection Notice (CPN)
- Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO)
- Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO)
A civil injunction must be granted by a court (or youth court). It prohibits certain behaviour and often also requires that the offender deals with the underlying cause of their anti-social behaviour, for example, seeking treatment for their drug or alcohol misuse.
If the anti-social behaviour has included threats of violence and the court considers there is a significant risk of harm to the other person(s), it can attach a power of arrest to the injunction.
Breaching a civil injunction can lead to up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine (over 18s), or a curfew, activity requirement or, in serious cases, detention (under 18s).
Criminal Protection Notice (CPN)
A Criminal Protection Notice deals with those who have little consideration about how their anti-social behaviour affects a community’s quality of life, e.g. dumping rubbish in the street, allowing dogs to escape from a property.
The individual (who must be over 16), business or organisation responsible for the anti-social behaviour is given written warning about their unacceptable behaviour and allowed the time and opportunity to take remedial action.
CPNs can be issued by police officers and designated council officers and police community support officers. Non-compliance can lead to a fixed penalty of up to £100; however, if court proceedings commence you could be fined up to £2,500.
Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs)
These orders deal with the most serious and persistent offenders, who engage in criminal activities as well as anti-social behaviour.
They can only be granted by a court, which must be satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that:
- the offender has engaged in behaviour that caused – or was likely to cause – harassment, alarm or distress to any person, and
- the order will encourage the offender to stop that behaviour in future.
Orders for those under 18 will last 1–2 years and will be reviewed every 12 months. The local youth justice service will be involved. Failure to comply with a CBO is a criminal offence and can result in imprisonment and/or a fine.
Public spaces protection orders (PSPOs)
PSPOs are council-led and target identified ‘nuisance’ behaviour in a specific location, e.g. drinking alcohol in public, congregating in groups on the street.
Orders can be flexible, for example, they might only apply in particular circumstances and may include certain exemptions. It is an offence to breach a PSPO with reasonable excuse with fixed penalties.
A PSPO can last for up to three years, after which it must be reviewed.
If your child is repeatedly in trouble with the police and you don’t take reasonable steps to stop them, you may find yourself subject to a Parenting Programme, a Parenting Contract or a Parenting Order.
Young people’s rights
Children and young people have certain legal rights, including when they are in a police station or under arrest.