New closure and noise powers being considered to tackle anti-social behaviour

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack.
SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack.

Victims of anti-social behaviour are being urged to have their say on the potential roll-out of a range of new powers designed to clampdown on the phenomenon.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack said people should take part in the Department of Justice (DoJ) consultation, which is open until June 12.

A range of powers currently available to the authorities in Britain may be extended to the North once public attitudes are gauged.

These include Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBO), which have already replaced ASBOs for people convicted of offences in England and Wales and are intended to be used to tackle the most serious and persistent offenders, and Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO), which are “designed to stop individuals or groups committing anti-social behaviour in a public space”.

‘Closure powers’ currently used in England and Wales to allow police or councils to close premises quickly if they are identified as a source of anti-social behaviour are also being considered by the authorities locally.

And ‘noise nuisance powers’ already used in Scotland to prevent the playing of musical instruments, singing, or the operation of radios, televisions or other sound production instruments if they are annoying somebody are also being considered.

Colr. Cusack stated: “This consultation, which is currently underway, will close next month on June 12. It is aimed at getting the views of the public and all stakeholders regarding incorporating some measures used in other jurisdictions such as England and Wales to deal with ASB into our legislative framework.

“Their ambition is to make our system more effective and to reduce the recent escalation in this behaviour.

“The Department describes the term ‘anti-social behaviour’ as being used by authorities in Northern Ireland to describe a broad range of inconsiderate and nuisance behaviours covering many types of activity that can blight the quality of life of a particular individual or family, a local group or a community; from rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour and excessive noise; to graffiti and littering; to abandoned vehicles.

“Such behaviour can effect individuals personally, cause a nuisance locally or have an adverse impact on the surrounding environment.”

You can access the details on the website at Justice-ni.gov.uk. Alternatively mail Community Safety Division, Department of Justice, Room A4.03, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SG.