Busybody orders targeting crying babies and dog walkers get new Government guidance
The Government has issued guidance on “busybody” community orders after complaints that they were targeting crying babies and dog walkers. The Home Office said the orders should be used to focus on behaviour which was “genuinely anti-social and causing others distress or alarm”.The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduced six powers to help local agencies tackle conduct that blights communities and neighbourhoods.But the legislation has come under fire from campaigners, who argue it has created a “busybody” approach as orders are used in some cases to restrict lawful and reasonable behaviour.Critics have particularly focused on Public Spaces Protection Orders. Earlier this year figures showed scores of councils have imposed the measures, while hundreds of fines have been issued for violations such as playing music too loudly in cars and not having a dog on a lead.Canterbury council introduced a rule requiring dog owners to carry two bags to clean up dog mess, a decision which was criticised by the Dogs Trust.The guidance highlights that the issuing officer must make a judgment as to whether the behaviour in question is unreasonable.”For instance, a baby crying in the middle of the night may well have a detrimental effect on immediate neighbours and is likely to be persistent in nature,” it says.”However, it is unlikely to be reasonable to issue the parents with a Community Protection Notice if there is not a great deal that they can do to control or affect the behaviour.”Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said the orders “should be used proportionately to tackle anti-social behaviour, and not to target specific groups or the most vulnerable in our communities”. Simon Blackburn, chairman of the Local Government Association’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “We look forward to studying the revised guidance on how best to use these powers in a consistent, fair and transparent way to tackle genuine nuisance behaviour to protect people from distress or alarm.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.