Legislative powers for anti-social behaviour – including different forms of personal, nuisance and environmental anti-social behaviour.
This page lists anti-social behaviours (ASB) and relevant legislation and policing powers. This includes:
- general enforcement powers for ASB
- powers for specific ASB offences
It also explains the different categories of ASB.
Categories of anti-social behaviour
There are three main types of anti-social behaviour (ASB). These are:
The topics and anti-social behaviours listed on this page may fall into more than one category of ASB.
Refers to incidents that deliberately target an individual or group of people, rather than the community. It is when an incident causes concern or stress and may impact on people's quality of life. For example:
Refers to incidents affecting the community, rather than an individual victim. This is when an act, thing or person causes the community trouble, annoyance, inconvenience or suffering. These incidence can interfere with public interests such as health, wellbeing, safety and quality of life. For example:
- drug or substance misuse
- vehicle-related nuisance
- animal-related problems
Refers to incidents where individuals or groups impact their wider surroundings. It includes environmental damage and the misuse of public spaces or buildings. For example:
- criminal damage or vandalism, such as graffiti or damage to bus shelters
This section contains a list of general enforcement powers to address anti-social behaviour under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. They may be appropriate for addressing various types of anti-social behaviour.
- See the full Home Office statutory guidance on powers that can be used to tackle anti-social behaviour
Sections 1 to 21 allow courts to grant a civil injunction to stop or prevent individuals from engaging in anti-social behaviour.
Criminal behaviour orders (CBO)
Sections 22 to 33 allow courts to make a CBO to stop or prevent individuals from engaging in anti-social behaviour.
Sections 34 to 42 allow police to use dispersal powers to exclude individuals from a specified location for a specified period of time.
Community protection notices (CPN)
Sections 43 to 93 allow authorised people to issue CPNs.
Public spaces protection orders (PSPO)
- Sections 59 to 75 allow local authorities to make a PSPO.
- Sections 59A to 74 allow local authorities to take rapid action to make an expedited PSPO. (As amended by section 82 of, and Schedule 7 to, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 (section 82 of the 2022 Act inserted new sections 59A, 60A, 72A and 72B into the 2014 Act.)
Sections 76 to 93 allow the council to quickly close premises that are being used, or are likely to be used, to commit nuisance or disorder.
See also the explanatory notes.
Sections 101 to 103 allow local policing bodies to prepare a community remedy document. This lists actions for a perpetrator to undertaken in consequence of their behaviour or offending, as chosen by the victim.
Absolute ground for possession
Sections 94 to 100 introduced a mandatory ground for possession of secure and assured tenancies where anti-social behaviour or criminality has already been proven.
- Schedule 2, Part I of the Housing Act 1988
- Section 84A of the Housing Act 1985
- Renting Homes (Amendment) (Wales) Act 2021
Commentary on Section 104 provides for the community trigger. This gives victims of persistent anti-social behaviour to request a case review.
This section contains a list of powers for animal-related ASB problems, such as noise and uncontrolled animals.
- The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 allows police to impose restrictions on dogs that present a serious danger to the public.
- If noise such as barking meets a certain threshold it can count as a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
- Some public areas in England and Wales are covered by Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs). This means dogs should be kept on a lead at all times in these areas.
- The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is the principal law relating to animal welfare. Animal welfare concerns should be reported to the RSPCA.
Powers to address begging when it may be classed as ASB.
- The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 s 4 covers causing or allowing a child under 16 to be used for begging.
- The Modern Slavery Act 2015 s 45 covers incidents where a person is being forced to beg by another.
- The Fraud Act 2006 s 2 is relevant for those pretending to be injured or destitute for their own gain. For example, those dishonestly presenting themselves as homeless when they have accommodation.
Fear or provocation of violence
- The Public Order Act 1986 s 4 covers situations when fear or violence is used.
- The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 provides both criminal and civil remedies to protect people from harassment.
Intentional public nuisance
- The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 s 78 covers intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance. Note that the threshold for serious harm is deliberately high. Begging is highly unlikely to meet this threshold on its own.
- The Serious Crime Act 2007 is relevant for begging that involves crime, organised crime or joint enterprise.
- The Highways Act 1980 s 137 covers wilful obstruction. For example, if someone is approaching cars to beg they may be blocking free passage along a highway.
Drug and substance misuse
Powers to address drug-related ASB, such as littering drug paraphernalia.
- The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 may apply if a person is in possession of controlled drugs.
- A PSPO may be used under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 if the persistent use of psychoactive substances is causing a detrimental effect on local residents' quality of life.
- The Environmental Protection Act 1990 s 87 may be relevant for littering of drugs paraphernalia, such as empty cannisters of nitrous oxide.
Powers to address ASB using fireworks.
- The Fireworks Act 2003 covers inappropriate use of fireworks, unlawful sale or possession of fireworks and noise created by fireworks.
Intimidation, harassment and stalking
Powers to address ASB such as harassment and intimidation.
- The Public Order Act 1986 ss 4 and 5 cover intentional harassment, alarm or distress (single-incident offences).
- The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 s 2/4 and s 2A/4A cover harassment and stalking (as part of a course of conduct occurring on at least two occasions).
Powers to address ASB in the form of nuisance noise, such as noisy cars or motorbikes, noisy neighbours, loud music, or noise from pubs or clubs.
Noise can count as a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if it either:
- unreasonably and substantially interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
- injures health or is likely to injure health
Local authorities and the police can issue CPNs for noise under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
Street drinking is a misuse of public space and can be classed as environmental ASB.
- The Licensing Act 2003 s 137 to 159 covers offences relating to unauthorised licensable activities.
Powers to address trespassing when it may be classed as ASB.
- Part 4 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 covers unauthorised encampments.
- The Criminal Law Act 1977 s 7 covers trespassers who refuse to leave a residential property.
- The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 s 61 allows police to direct any trespasser to leave land under certain circumstances.
- The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 s 68 covers aggravated trespass, where a trespasser intends to intimidate others or disrupt lawful activity (such as preventing customers entering a business).
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 s 144 covers squatting in a residential building.
Vehicle-related nuisance and inappropriate use
This section contains a list of powers for seizing vehicles. These seizure powers may be appropriate for addressing ASB such as vehicle nuisance or inappropriate use of motors.
- The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s 19 allows police to use general powers of seizure.
Careless or inconsiderate driving
The Police Reform Act 2002 s 59 allows police to seize any motor vehicle if it is being:
- used in a manner causing alarm or distress
- driven inconsiderately or carelessly, contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988 s 3 or s 34
Driving without licence, insurance or tax
- The Road Traffic Act 1988 s 165 allows police to seize vehicles driven without licence or insurance.
- The Transport Act 2000 s 173 to 175 allows police to seize untaxed vehicles.
Vehicles used to commit an offence
- The Environmental Protection Act 1990 s 34B allows police to seize vehicles where they have been used to commit a relevant offence.
- The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 s 45 allows police to seize criminal assets. This includes vehicles that are subject to a restraint order where it's necessary to prevent the vehicle's removal from England or Wales.
- The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 s 64 allows police to enter land and seize vehicles in relation to rave events.