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.
PRESS RELEASE FROM REFORM CLAUSE 1 – ‘FEEL FREE TO ANNOY ME’ CAMPAIGNJanuary 24, 2014
For immediate release
Reform Clause 1 applauds Government climbdown on plans to outlaw annoying and nuisance behaviour
Campaigners have welcomed the Government’s decision to scrap plans to outlaw annoying and nuisance behaviour in public.
Civil liberty groups, peers and MPs were worried that plans to replace ASBOs with IPNAs, (Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance) would have a chilling effect on free speech and potentially outlaw many ordinary and hitherto legal activities.
The Government wanted to extend the replacement to Labour’s ASBOs, by allowing the Courts to restrict any action “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance” by any person in any place.
Campaigners said that the wording and the low evidence thresholds were dangerous as almost anyone and any action was capable of being annoying, or causing a nuisance and would lead to a slew of ridiculous and costly cases.
Campaigners cited a legal opinion from the former DPP, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven which said that a lone individual standing outside the entrance to a bank holding a sign objecting to its role in the financial crisis, could “meet the criteria and threshold for an IPNA”. The bank could argue that such a protester was annoying and causing a nuisance to their customers.
Lord Macdonald also said that “a busker outside a shopping centre, or a street preacher proclaiming the end of days to passers-by may all be capable of causing nuisance and annoyance to some person”.
He concluded that the legislation constitutes “gross state interference” and that the wide remit could lead to many ordinary people facing court action.
Following a three month campaign by the Reform Clause 1 group and a key vote in the House of Lords earlier this month, where peers voted overwhelmingly for Lord Dear’s amendment to the legislation, the Government have today confirmed that they will accept the key changes.
Simon Calvert, Reform Clause 1 Campaign Director, commented:
“This is a victory for common sense and civil liberties – a day to celebrate.
“The original wording risked landing many ordinary people in court, which even the Government could not deny. Ministers were unable to provide a single example of genuinely loutish behaviour that their new wording would protect against that the old wording did not.
“I am delighted that peers, led by Lord Dear, stood up for our civil liberties and that the Government has today seen sense and agreed to accept the thrust of the Lords amendments.”
Reform Clause 1 was backed by a cross party group of MPs and peers along with Peter Tatchell, The Christian Institute, National Secular Society and Big Brother Watch. For a full list see below:
- The Christian Institute
- National Secular Society
- Peter Tatchell Foundation
- Big Brother Watch
- The Freedom Association
- Manifesto Club
- New Culture Forum
- Evangelical Alliance
Active support for the reform of Clause 1 was also provided by:
- Criminal Justice Alliance
- Countryside Alliance
- Standing Committee For Youth Justice
- The Children’s Society