By which I mean, roughly, that the Bill is likely to be law by Christmas. It has sailed through the Commons and its first and second readings in the Lords. It is now at the Lords’ committee stage, the last point in which some hero can table amendments to get rid of the manifold bad things contained within it.
I have not received any communication from the Home Office. I am not especially shocked.
On the silver-lining side, at least a few lords have actually mentioned the problems in their debate – <http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2013-10-29a.1482.5 > – you’ll find the bits if you search ‘annoy’, ‘nuisance’, ‘IPNA’ and so on.
Also the grown-up media have found their false teeth and started to make a fuss, albeit too late and too quietly:
– The Guardian (and one PCC): <http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/11/antisocial-behaviour-police-chief-young-people>
– Some City Councillors writing to the Telegraph wanting old ASBOs retained: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/10439392/Legislation-is-needed-to-make-developers-build-agreed-housing-schemes.html> and others in the Telegraph afraid the bill would hamper our ability to deport Roma* beggars: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/romania/10378601/Scrapping-Asbos-will-make-London-a-playground-for-begging-gangs-council.html>
– Oh, Telegraph’s contradicting itself: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10437127/New-Asbo-plans-are-assault-on-basic-freedom-says-former-DPP-Lord-Macdonald.html>
– Charismatic Christian News: <http://www.charismanews.com/world/41734-christian-street-preachers-could-be-gagged-by-anti-social-behavior-law>
– Big Brother Watch – <http://www.bigbrotherwatch.org.uk/home/2013/11/new-asbo-assault-liberty.html>
– The Times (£), which is supportive of the bill’s low threshold for illegality : <http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/leaders/article3919506.ece> It does at least note the criticisms of Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, QC, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, who said:
“The danger in this Bill is that it potentially empowers State interference against such in the face of shockingly low safeguards and little apparent acknowledgement of the potential effect of its provisions on the ability to exercise core rights without undue interference.”
“A lone individual standing outside the entrance to a bank holding a sign objecting to its role in the financial crisis, 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, but the question is whether they should be subject to such broad legislative intervention as is proposed in this bill…”
“Indeed, the pressing question is whether state interference in the context of behaviour that is merely potentially annoying could ever be justifiable or amount to a proportionate interference in those critical rights to freedom of speech, assembly and religion, or indeed to private life.”
– Lower profile commentators have suggested that there are also problems with the bill’s alterations to extradition orders (you can no longer appeal from within the country).
As Ron from Harry Potter would say, ‘Bloody Brilliant’.
*I say ‘Roma’, the people in question are the beggars often found around Marble Arch and Park Lane, whom the Telegraph often calls ‘Romanian’ as if the two are completely synonymous. They certainly could be Roma from Romania. They could also be Romanian and not Roma.
Feel free to comment!