Intentional harassment, alarm or distress
Intentional harassment, alarm or distress

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Intentional harassment, alarm or distress
  • The elements of the offence under POA 1986, s 4A
  • Causing harassment, alarm or distress
  • Threatening, abusive or insulting
  • Disorderly behaviour
  • Writing
  • Display
  • Intent
  • Place where offence may be committed
  • Harassment, alarm or distress
  • More...

This Practice Note explains the offence of causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress contrary to section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986 (POA 1986), alongside the lesser offence of causing harassment, alarm or distress under POA 1986, s 5.

An offence under either POA 1986, s 4A or 5 is triable only summarily.

The elements of the offence under POA 1986, s 4A

This offence was inserted into POA 1986 by section 154 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

The prosecution must prove that the defendant:

  1. used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour, or displayed any writing, sign or other visible representation which was threatening, abusive or insulting

  2. so behaved with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, and

  3. by that behaviour caused that person or another person harassment, alarm or distress

The CPS Legal Guidance on Public Order offences incorporating the Charging Standard states that POA 1986, s 4A should not be used when behaviour has been persistent and directed towards an individual (or where there may be a vulnerable victim who would benefit from a restraining order). In such cases, prosecutors should consider sections 2 and 4 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1986. Charges under this section are appropriate for the POA 1986, s 5 offences.

Causing harassment, alarm or distress

As to the definition of harassment,

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