Draft Anti-Social Behaviour Bill
On the 13th December 2012, the Home Office published a Draft Anti-Social Behaviour Bill
Unfortunately it is almost unreadable. unless you either print out 95 pages of legislation.
You cannot use your (.pdf) reader software to do keyword searches, or to copy and paste sections of text into another document e.g. for submission as evidence to the Home Office or to the Home Affairs Committee.
If you have poor eyesight, you cannot use the Speech to Text capability of your software either. Surely this breaks all the politically correct Home Office and Parliamentary policies and the Law regarding Accessibility for Disabled people ?
Spy Blog has wasted a lot of hours trying out the Optical Character Recogbition feature of Google Drive and has produced an Accessible version of the Draft Anti-Social Behaviour Bill in various file formats:
Having read every single word of this Bill, it came as no great surprise that the Home Office's supposeded "tidying up and simplification" of the vast legacy of the Social Control mechanisms and red tape they introduced under the Labour government is horribly complicated, inconsistently draughted and full of probably unintended consequences.
Over broad catch all language = threat to civil liberties
The intention of the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government may be to "tackle" (i.e. Be Seen To Be Doing Something about something that features in the tabloid newspapers) e.g.feral youths hanging about on the streets etc. but the unecessarily broad language of the Bill (full of the usual catch all "any" and "anything" etc.) makes it a threat to civil liberties
e,g, "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance" is far too broad - it is triggered even if there is no actual nuisance or annoyance whatsoever .
Disruption of protests and demonstrations using Dispersal Powers
There is little to stop a Police Constable or a Local Authority bureaucrat or various unamed. unaccountible people working for them, to , for example, use the Dispersion Powers to disrupt and harass peaceful political demonstrations and protests.The fact that there has to be a "official Trades Union dispute picket line" exemption, just as there was in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square, pretty well proves this legislation can be abused in this way.
Barriers around properties - could easily be used to create ghettos
Why are Local Authorities / Police being given powers to erect barriers which cut off access via Highway rights of way ? There are no safeguards to prevent this power from being used to create Belfast / Israel style ghettos or no-go areas,
Justice only if you are very rich
The attitude of the lawyers who have created this horrible legislation is that since you can, in theory, challenge the various Orders in the High Court, that makes everything ok in regard to compatibility with the Human Rights Act and the ECHR at Strasbourg.
In practice, this is not justice, since unless you are rich , you risk bankruptcy through the expensive legal fees to which the Court system involves, but your opponents have unlimited taxpayer funds and / or in house lawyers to oppose you.
RIPA Part 1 Intercept evidence loophole ?
In their eagerness to stack the legal system against the convicted criminal who is further being punished with an ASBO style order, the Home Office could well be setting themselves up for a major legal challenge to the sanctity of their "must be kept secret under penalty of 2 years in prison" Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Part 1 Interception of communications evidence.
22 Proceedings on an application for an order
(1) For the purpose of deciding whether to make a criminal behaviour order the court may consider evidence led by the prosecution and evidence led by the offender.
(2) It does not matter whether the evidence would have been admissible in the proceedings in which the offender was convicted.
We look forward to seeing Charles Farr's reaction when a defence barrister asks for discovery of Intercept Evidence, citing the fact that, if passed, it must be the will of Parliament that the ASBA 2013 Act trumps RIPA 2000.
Confiscation of private property
The Bye Laws which were introduced in London around Parliament Square which allow for the confiscation of some specific types of private property i.e. tents , sleeping bags etc. to prevent the "nuisance" of "protest camps" etc. now seem to have mutated into the power to confiscate anything you are carrying , on the whim of the Police Constable or even a Local Council "Heritage Warden" jobsworth, not just in London but throughout England and Wales. N.B. this is not confiscation of illegal stuff like weapons or drugs, or specific things like alcohol in in a "no drinking on the street" zone, thjis is the power to confiscate, say your mobile phone or anything else you are carrying, for , supposedly up to 28 days.
Eviction of the innocent from council houses & discrimination against those in England
The idea that you can be punished for something which you personally did not do, or approve of, should be abhorrent to everyone in the UK.
This Bill tries to create a "Ground" for re-possession i.e. eviction of a fmily from a coincil house etc. on the basis that one of the members of the family or even a Visitor has been convicted of an offence which took place " took place during, and at the scene of, a riot in the United Kingdom".. So this person has already been punished but somehow the rest of their family should also be punished for something which they did not do themselves.
Stunnigly, this applies to a "riot" anywhere in the United Kingdom, including Scotalnd and Northern Ireland, even though this Anti-Social Behaviour Bill is only supposed to deaal with England & Wales.
Note that there is no similar provision for someone living in Wales, let alone Scotland or Northern Ireland. Why is there such unfair treatment of the English ?
Reverse Burden of Proof - having to prove a negative
It is intolerable to introduce the need for a defendant to have to "prove a negative" like this Bill does e.g.
41 Appeals against notices
(1) A person issued with a community protection notice may appeal to a magistrates' court against the notice on any of the following grounds.
1. That the Conduct specified in the community protection notice
(a) did not take place,
(b) has not had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality,
(c) has not been of a persistent or continuing nature,
(d) is not unreasonable, or
The Home Office have a Consultation open on one aspect of the ASB Bill, the Community Remedy
All of the Adobe (.pdf) files are fine and Accessible, except for the most important one, the actual text of the Bill itself.
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/community-remedy-consultation/draft-antisocial-behaviour-bill?view=Binary (1.2 Mb) (includes accessible Explanatory Notes & inaccessible Bill text)
The Explanatory Notes are searchable or accessible via the latest Adobe XI reader's Text to Speech capability, but the actual text of the Draft ASB Bill, within the same document is Password encrypted so that it cannot be copied and pasted legibly.
You cannot use Adobe Reader or Foxit etc. to search for keywords within this appalling complicated legislation, which runs to 95 pages. Search engines like Google or Bing or Yahoo are similarly hampered.
The Parliament Bills page and the Home Affairs Committee link to this version
http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm84/8495/8495.pdf (1.2 Mb) (includes accessible Explanatory Notes & inaccessible Bill text)
which suffers from exactly the same Accessibility problems - there is no HTML web page version of the Draft ASB Bill on either the Parliament or Home Office websites.
The Home Affairs Select Committee wants to produce its Report into the Draft ASB Bill before the Parliamentary recess, so their deadline for the submission of written evidence is only next week i.e. Wednesday 9th January 2013
Exemption from liability
Why should Local Councils or the Police be given exemption from liability if they or their contractors damage or destroy a property which they have seized or forced the closure of ?