The Reform Clause 1 campaign succeeded in its aim to amend Clause 1. The change is now incorporated in Section 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 and came into force in October 2014.
Is it too late to do anything?
No. The House of Lords is still considering the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill. The next debate on Clause 1 will be in early January. Peers may have an opportunity then to vote to block anti-annoyance orders, or to make them less damaging. You can write to a Peer, or put pressure on the Government to think again by emailing your MP via this website – click on “Get Involved”.
Does this affect Scotland or Northern Ireland?
No. Part 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill, which creates the new anti-annoyance orders (or IPNAs), only applies to England and Wales.
Don’t you care about stopping anti-social behaviour?
No one denies that people’s lives can be blighted by harassment from neighbours and aggressive behaviour in public places. But there are lots of laws that can already be used to protect vulnerable members of the public and tackle genuine crime. Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance or Annoyance, which Clause 1 would create, are a lazy and oppressive response to the problem and will catch innocent people in the crossfire. By all means encourage the authorities to use the powers they already have to protect the public and uphold justice, but outlawing all nuisance or annoyance in the public square is not the answer.
Do you really want to encourage people to be annoying?
Not really. But the definition of annoying is incredibly subjective. What is annoying to one person may be amusing or enlightening to another. People can be annoyed by the perfectly reasonable expression of an opinion or belief. Should we really ask the courts to decide which kind of annoyance should be outlawed and which should not?