Death of Civil Liberties Three Weeks Away

[Another alarmist title. Such fun]

Hi team!

I’m banging on about the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill again, because a date has been set for its Report Stage and Third Reading: 14 October. Without going into the complexity of Westminster law creation, this is basically the last realistic chance to amend or stop the Bill. Also the Welsh Assembly has given it a green light.
Has there been a large public outcry since my first criticism, moaning to my MP, (also HuffPo) or the dog’s dinner my MP made in response to my concerns?

Well, no.

To briefly recap the problems with the Bill:
– the bill will make it near-impossible to get compensation for miscarriage of justice
– the bill’s IPNAs [super-ASBOs] give police too much power with too much subjective discretion
– the bill’s PSPOs [dispersal orders] threaten legal protest and freedom of assembly
– the bill contributes to a general lurch towards heavy-handed state supervision

There have been a few more criticisms raised, albeit without notable impact.

Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden is a solicitor whose Wikipedia page suggests he:

“Specialises in …using the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to contain and curtail protest involving, amongst other matters, anti-corporate groups. He has acted in numerous cases involving animal rights groups, environmentalists, and anti-militarist groups.”

You’d expect him to be in favour of increased powers, no?

His article ‘Out of Order?’ in the New Law Journal criticised Part I of the Bill, because it simply isn’t written very well. He argues [my bold]:

“The provisions set out in Pt I are flawed and are either illogical or lack jurisprudential merit.

“The term [Anti Social Behaviour] is defined as comprising “conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person”.
The use of the word nuisance appears to be both colloquial and very remote from the classic definition of nuisance established by common law. A short consideration of the definitions in Clerk & Lindsell on Torts (20th ed, Sweet & Maxwell) does not readily assist with an analysis of how this use of nuisance is likely to be interpreted.

“The term annoyance suggests that the statutory draftsman appears to be intent on creating a low threshold upon which to found injunctive relief.”

Essentially, he agrees with my earlier point that things like ‘nuisance’ are insufficiently defined, which I fear opens a door to local authority and police abuse. [N.B. the quoted book has nothing to do with me; I assume a distant relative must be doing well.]

There is also an Independent article by Gloria De Piero MP, Shadow Home Office Minister. De Piero’s article stresses that the new IPNAs will be less effective and more costly than ASBOs, and urges the government to reconsider the Bill. I’m not qualified to discuss the overall effectiveness of ASBOs, but at least someone from Labour (and GMTV) has taken notice.

If you feel strongly about these issues, feel free to quote parts for your own correspondences. Find your MP’s details here. You could sign some petitions. There’s this Government website one and this Change.org one. Might as well hit up the 38degrees.com petition against TEMPORA while you’re at it.

Grr.

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