What is the Community Protection Notice?
The Community Protection Notice (CPN) was introduced in 2014, under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act. The notice allowed local authorities to impose specific sanctions to the individual who had been issued the Community Protection Notice. These included the individual being prevented from doing certain things. The Community Protection Notice has been met with some criticism, due to the subjectivity of the notice. As it is down to local councils, there are issues of inconsistency across the country, which can be argued is unfair to the victims of Anti-Social Behaviour, and places them in a ‘postcode lottery’.
The Community Protection Notice in action:
One recent example of this is in East Sussex, where a couple (Mr and Mrs Jacklin) have been issued with a Community Protection warning letter, which prevents them from looking into nearby houses, due to harassment allegations. Despite them being issued with the notice, they were the ones who originally complained about their neighbours, making allegations of verbal abuse and noisy builders. The article, which can be viewed here, mentions that the dispute has been ongoing for five years.
With cases of neighbour disputes, there is a much higher chance of the case being resolved through mediation if it is dealt with early on. This means the case will not be taken to local authorities and court, and avoids the victim having to endure any more distress. In addition to this, the warning letter also instructs that Mr and Mrs Jacklin must not be “perceived by any person to be looking into any neighbours property from outside their property”. This is incredibly difficult, if not impossible to police. Even if the neighbours had installed CCTV, it would be very difficult to prove they were looking in their general direction, and could be put down to coincidence. Whilst this type of sanction is impossible to police, (which suggests it would be unsuccessful), it is also very restricting on Mr and Mrs Jacklin, preventing them from accessing the beach. It can be argued their quality of life is being impacted due to the Community Protection Notice, something which the notice was originally set up to avoid.
Furthermore, when the Community Protection Notice was originally created, it stated that in order for a protection notice to be issued; “the individual’s conduct must be having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those locally” (More information on the Community Protection Notice can be found here). There is a complaint about Mr and Mrs Jacklin peering into the windows of the neighbour’s house. If that is occurring, surely the Community Protection warning should prohibit peering into their home and trespassing on their property, not go to the extreme of forbidding them to even look towards the neighbour’s property. This does not seem to be a proportionate punishment.
As Mr and Mrs Jacklin had originally complained themselves about light and noise pollution, and also verbal abuse from their neighbours, it begs the question as to why they were not considered to be victims, and instead were branded as the offenders and sanctioned accordingly. Often in neighbourhood disputes, there are no clear victims or offenders. Both parties are usually partly responsible for the dispute and if CPNs are to be used, it may be appropriate to issue both parties with one to control the behaviour causing distress on both sides. However, if this is not the case, more needs to be done to ensure victims’ voices are heard by local authorities and the police.
How the Community Trigger can help:
If a victim of anti-social behaviour feels they are not being listened to and no action is being taken, we would recommend they consider the Community Trigger as a way of making their voices heard. The Community Trigger allows victims the right to demand that agencies such as the police and local authorities deal with persistent anti-social behaviour. If you have reported three separate incidents of anti-social behaviour in the past six months and no-one seems to be doing anything about it, activate the Community Trigger to get a review of your case. See our Community Trigger Directory here.
Whilst the Community Protection Notice was originally set up as a way to help victims and ensure they receive justice and support, its subjectivity and unrealistic sanctions mean that often it is unsuccessful. When used in the correct situation, it may help victims. However, in neighbourhood disputes where there is no clear victim, it may actually make the situation worse.