Oz catches 'Santa's lap' panic

An Australian child protection adviser has called for shopping centres to 'update child protection policies' so that children 'stand beside Santa' rather that sit on his knee. This sparked a national debate about the rights and wrongs of sitting on Santa's knee (Is it wrong if the child asks to do it? Where should Santa put his hands? Which part of the knee?)

New ASB powers of eviction: Our homes are no longer our own

A 22-year old has been evicted from her home in Plymouth, as police used the broad new powers of eviction contained within the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act.

The Plymouth Herald reports enthusiastically that new ASB powers mean that somebody can be evicted from their home and asked to leave 'within the hour', if police 'tell the court they reasonably believe that there is, or is likely soon to be, a public nuisance or there is disorder in the vicinity of the premises'.

Another council calls in the litter police

Another council - Gravesham Borough Council, in Kent - will contract a private company for the issuing of litter fines.

The Manifesto Club argues that the issuing of fines by private companies on commission can gravely distort the operations of justice and law enforcement (see our report The Corruption of Punishment).

There are several salient points in Gravesham Borough Council's report about the contract:

- There have only been 9 litter fines issued by council and police officers in 2014. This is likely to go up to two or three thousand once the company is contracted.

ASB powers used against motorist meet-ups

Colchester Council is planning a 'public spaces protection order' banning car enthusiasts from gathering in a retail park after 6pm.

This comes after gatherings of hundreds of cars, organised by the East Essex Cruisers. Yet significantly, when police visited previous gatherings, they found that people were 'not doing anything much'; they were looking at each other's cars, some revving their engines or playing music on the car radio. The only offence was the sale of burgers from vans without a licence.

From public services to CRASBOs

In a post on the New Observer, Justin Wyllie points out that new anti-social behaviour powers are often being used against the mentally ill or other marginalised groups. He says:

How many criminal checks does an exam invigilator need?

I just received this email from an exam invigilator – in response to my Civitas report on vetting - about the frequent requests he receives for criminal records checks. Some of these requests appear to be motivated by DfE guidance that if a volunteer hasn’t been into school for the previous three months, they be asked to carry out a separate check. All of which shows that requests for repeat vetting continue apace – and that the rules underlying these requests remain confusing and illogical.

Oxford delegates power to make new ASB laws to SINGLE council officers

One of the big questions about the implementation of the new wide-ranging 'public space protection orders' (PSPOs) was how councils will decide to pass them.

PSPOs allow for the council to ban anything which it judges has a 'detrimental effect' on the 'quality of life' of an area. But there are no proceedural requirements about how officials might go about this - so one council might require a PSPO to pass through full council, which would provide a democratic check; while other authority might delegate the law-making power to a single council officer.

This latter possibility is obviously extremely worrying, but extremely likely, given the emphasis in the use of these powers in a 'speedy and flexible manner'.

The war on street drinkers

One of the main uses of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act has been a direct and concerted war on street drinkers.

Of course, street drinking has always been frowned upon by some, and for the past few years police have had powers to confiscate open containers of alcohol in certain areas (called 'Designated Public Spaces').

And yet, street drinking as such was not a crime: police were supposed to only use confiscation powers if a person was behaving in a disorderly manner. They often abused these powers, but there was some form of available challenge.

ASB dispersal powers: The crime of being found in a public place

One of the new powers in the wide-ranging Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act (which came into force on 20 October) is the power to disperse groups or individuals.

These new dispersal powers are more draconian than the old dispersal powers (available section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 and section 30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003), in the following ways:

    - Areas do not have to be designated a dispersal zone in advance; a police inspector can on-the-spot designate any area a dispersal zone;

    - The new powers allow for the confiscation of property;

    - The new powers allow for somebody to be banned from an area for 48 hrs (rather than 24);

Defending freedom for football supporters

On 30 October, the Manifesto Club partnered the FSF and the Battle of Ideas to host a meeting about the regulation of football fans.

Here is a post by Peter Lloyd, author of the Manifesto Club’s report ‘Criminalising Football Fans – The case Against ‘Bubble Matches’, summarising some conclusions from the meeting.

In the wake of the 30 October debate, we should seek:

  • A recognition that football is overwhelmingly a force for good with generally well behaved fans, and with grounds and surrounding areas extremely safe compared to other urban environments;
  • Syndicate content