Well be careful then, you might be about to become a criminal.
Sadly, I’m not exaggerating. You see, in a drive to simplify our somewhat overburdened legislation, the government is currently considering a new Bill, the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill which could make being annoying a criminal act. They are looking at replacing ASBOs with IPNAs – Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance.
Now, preventing nuisance and annoyance probably sounds like a great idea. But, think about this properly. This can be applied to a child from aged 10 or up. Do you know any child from age 10 or up that is never a nuisance or annoyance? Perhaps you’re still not worried because after all, there will be a carefully described and thought through series of checks and balances, right.
(1) A court may grant an injunction under this section against a person aged 10 or
over (“the respondent”) if two conditions are met.
(2) The first condition is that the court is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities,
that the respondent has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of
causing nuisance or annoyance to any person (“anti-social behaviour”).
(3) The second condition is that the court considers it just and convenient to grant
the injunction for the purpose of preventing the respondent from engaging in
I’m personally lacking in reassurance at this point. Balance of probabilities? Threatens to engage??
But perhaps you think, given I lack legal training, that I’m misinterpreting this. Perhaps you’d like some more educated opinions. Would Liberty do? Read their briefing (pdf link) Or perhaps the opinion of the association of chief police officers will carry some weight with you.
Or there’s this excellent post from Scriptonite, with all sorts of useful links in it. It covers much more than just the IPNA section of this bill, also looking at whether or not we’re about to lose the right to peaceful protest (or indeed, whether we already have).
I know it’s hard to believe that this could actually happen. But if we don’t keep our eyes firmly on our politicians it’s been proven time and again that they do pretty awful stuff. So please, do have a read around this issue, and either raise it with your MP, via writetothem, or yes, sign the petition. And do more than that – talk to other people about it, discuss the issues, make sure that legislation can’t be passed without our knowledge that criminalises children just for possibly going to be being a bit annoying.
It’s not big and it’s not clever. What do you think?
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