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Community Protection Notices (CPN) were introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
They enable the police and local authorities to require someone to do (or stop doing) a particular act in order to put an end to conduct which they believe, on reasonable grounds, is:
- Negatively affecting the quality of life of local people;
- Continuing or persistent;
Behaviours banned so far include “eyesore gardens”, “unsightly vehicles”, door slamming, “nuisance bird feeding”, more than 6 people standing outside a pub, accordion noise, tethering horses on council land, busking too long in the same spot and “large items in garden”. Irritating, perhaps, but not acts which most people would want to see criminalised. A CPN has even been issued to an individual for “crying”.
A person has 21 days to appeal from the date that a CPN is issued, after which the behaviour can be prohibited indefinitely. On the face of the legislation, no appeal outside that tight deadline is possible. This is a staggeringly broad power, especially considering that it can be exercised against people who have no previous convictions and without judicial oversight.
Recently we acted for a young Portuguese male of good character who was issued with a CPN, which barred him from Stratford indefinitely. Additionally, he was banned from the entire borough of Newham whilst in a group of 4 people or more. It was agreed that he had breached the CPN by entering a prohibited area. Nonetheless, the CPS eventually discontinued the prosecution after we challenged it on the basis that it was unreasonable and unfair.
In preparation for trial, our firm made a Freedom of Information Request to the Metropolitan Police Service. It transpires that of the 33 Community Protection Warnings issued by Newham Police between 7 and 14 July 2017, 30 were handed down to Portuguese nationals. Over the next month, 21 Notices followed against the same group, with possibly more, as the records do not always specify nationality.
This case resulted in a welcome victory for our client. However, when members of national or ethnic groups are being permanently banned from large areas of our city, as it appears they were here, wider questions should start to be asked about how and why this new power is being used, and against whom.