30 January, 2015
The Government has this week announced that Part 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 ('the Act') is likely to now come into force in March 2015.
Part 1 of the Act refers to the new civil injunction designed to tackle anti-social behaviour. The delay was necessary to make changes to the system for rewarding legal aid services considered necessary to enable the injunction under Part 1 of the Act to come into force.
Changes are required to legal aid services because the new injunctions under Part 1 of the Act will combine the provisions of both the previous ASBIs and ASBOs under one umbrella which will be subject to the civil burden of proof ('on the balance of probabilities'). At the moment, those holding a civil legal aid contract deal with ASBIs and those who hold a criminal legal aid contract deal with ASBOs. For the purposes of legal aid, the Part 1 injunction is treated as a civil matter and this would mean that those holding a criminal legal aid contract would no longer be able to undertake work on the new Part 1 injunction.
Therefore, the Government has made changes to the legal aid system so that a breach of a Part 1 injunction will be treated as criminal proceedings for the purposes of legal aid. This is because breach of a Part 1 injunction will be punishable as contempt of court with the potential to attract a custodial sanction and this is subject to the criminal standard of proof ('beyond reasonable doubt'). Legal aid will still be able to civil providers if justified and approved by the Legal Aid Agency. The changes to legal aid will coincide with the commencement of the Part 1 injunction.
Until the amendments are made to legal aid and the Act is brought into force, social landlords should continue to use, the current ASBI's to deal with perpetrators of anti-social behaviour.
If you have any questions relating to this article, please contact Bethany Paliga by email or on 01772 220241.