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Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Section 34 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, allows a police offices of or above the rank of Inspector to authorise the dispersal of persons in a specific area to prevent crime and disorder for up to 48 hours. The authorising officer reasonably believes that, in respect of any locality within his police area, the exercise by a constable in uniform or PCSO of the dispersal powers may be required in order to remove or reduce the likelihood of crime and disorder or behaviour likely to caused members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed. For instance, the inspector may have intelligence to indicate that there is likely to be anti-social behaviour on a particular housing estate during the weekend and authorise the use of the dispersal for 48 hours. Alternatively, in a situation where an officer needs to use the dispersal power in an area that has not been authorised, the officer can contact an inspector for an authorisation and describe the circumstances to him or her.

Before authorising the use of the dispersal power in a specified area, the authorising police officer must have particular regard to the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association. A similar duty is placed on a constable/PCSO before issuing a dispersal direction using this power

The authorising officer must record the authorisation in writing, specifying the grounds on which it is given and sign the authorisation. The decision should be based on objective grounds; this may include local knowledge of the area and intelligence that there are likely to be problems at a specific time. The authorising police officer should ensure that the wider impacts on, for example, community relations, are considered properly before use.

Section 35 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 relates to the use of the power authorised as above.

The officer/PCSO issuing the direction must be in uniform and the following two conditions need to be met:

  1. The officer must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the behaviour of the person has contributed, or is likely to contribute, to: members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed; or crime and disorder occurring in the locality.
  2. The officer considers that giving a direction to the person is necessary for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of anti-social behaviour, crime or disorder.

This includes behaviour that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, allowing the dispersal to be used as a preventative measure.

The dispersal power is for use in public places; this includes places to which the public has access by virtue of express or implied permission, for example a shopping centre.

Surrender of property: The police officer or PCSO can require the person given the direction to hand over items causing or likely to cause anti-social behaviour. This could be any item but typical examples are alcohol, fireworks or spray paint.

The officer does not have the power to seize the item; therefore the person’s consent is required to take the item. However, it is an offence for the person not to hand over the item if asked to do so.

Surrendered items will be held at the police station and can be collected after the period of the direction has expired. If the item is not collected within 28 days it can be destroyed or disposed of. If the individual is under the age of 16 they can be required to be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult to collect the item; this will mean that the adult can be made aware of the young person’s behaviour and will help encourage parental responsibility.


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