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Civil Injunctions and Street Prostitution


 

Civil injunctions can be used by councils to prohibit “nuisance” matters such as street prostitution, begging, drug dealing and shoplifting These injunctions are based on the general law of public nuisance and Section 222 of the Local Government Act of 1972 which gives local authorities the power to take legal action to stop or prevent a public nuisance. In such cases, although many of the behaviours are criminal offences, the circumstances of these offences can make it difficult to secure criminal convictions or effective criminal sanctions to stop the behaviour

There are a number of advantages in using civil injunctions to tackle serious and persistent criminal behaviour by adults. Injunctions can be quicker to obtain than criminal proceedings as under Section 91 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 courts are able to attach the power of arrest to Section 222 injunctions. The power of arrest can only be attached to an injunction where there is violence or the threat of violence or significant risk of harm, whether physical or otherwise. A person who is arrested for breaching a condition of the injunction can be remanded in custody pending trial, although that person must be brought before the courts within 24 hours of being arrested. Civil and not criminal rules of evidence apply to injunction hearings which means that witnesses may be more likely to be willing to attend to give evidence, and “hearsay” evidence may be considered.

A final injunction lasts for ever. Breach of injunctions can result in prison sentences for adults provided that appropriate warnings have been issued.

Local authorities can use their powers under Section 222 LGA in partnership with the police, who can assist in identifying offenders and gathering evidence that may not be available to the council.