Q&As

What powers of dispersal are available to the police and/or a local authority under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014? How are they imposed and what matters are taken into consideration?

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Produced in partnership with Philip Rule of No 5 Chambers
Published on LexisPSL on 22/02/2019

The following Local Government Q&A produced in partnership with Philip Rule of No 5 Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What powers of dispersal are available to the police and/or a local authority under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014? How are they imposed and what matters are taken into consideration?
  • Authorisation for the use of the power of dispersal
  • Nature of the powers
  • Exercise of the powers
  • Restrictions on the use of the powers

Authorisation for the use of the power of dispersal

Section 34 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (ABCPA 2014) provides that a police officer of at least the rank of inspector may authorise, in writing and giving their reasons, the use of dispersal powers:

  1. by designated uniformed officers

  2. in a specific locality

  3. for a specified period of up to 48 hours

They must be satisfied, on reasonable grounds, that use of those powers for that period may be necessary to remove or reduce the likelihood of the public being harassed, alarmed or distressed, or the occurrence of crime or disorder in that locality.

The inspector ‘must have particular regard to the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly’ given effect by the Human Rights Act 1998. Part 2.3 of Home Office Statutory Guidance: Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act: anti-social behaviour, provided for by ABCPA 2014, s 41, cautions that the power to restrict freedom of movement should not be invoked lightly, and to be proportionate an authorisation should cover the minimum area necessary such as the specific street names forming the boundary of the area.

According to the guidance, the power is to provide:

‘…immediate short-term respite to the local community. The power is preventative, allowing an officer to deal quickly with someone’s behaviour and nip the problem in the bud

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