Naturists Campaigning for Naturism

Ideas needed on the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime & Policing Bill 2013

Help Needed – quickly please!

I hope you will have read the articles on this website and elsewhere on this Bill. It could be used against naturism if it goes through in its current form, so we all need to do all we can to get it altered appropriately.

Today I met with my MP (Andrew Turner) to follow up on my correspondence with him on the ABC&P Bill.

I have to make some allowances as he had a bad stroke about 4 years ago and hasn’t fully recovered, and looks as if he is coasting to retirement, but I was nevertheless disappointed that he knew virtually nothing of the Bill, despite my correspondence (all answered by his staff), or even Jeremy Brown’s replies to my passed-on enquiries. So I had to explain a lot in a short time, which meant being very focussed on the main problem – the over-wide definition in S1 of ‘anti-social behaviour’. This is currently drafted as “…behaviour capable of causing annoyance or nuisance to any person.” He was surprisingly sympathetic to our fears of misuse of this for people in positions of authority, though not specifically against naturism. He was also surprisingly un-trusting of magistrates, police and local government officers to keep their personal agendas out of their professional decisions. I gave him copies of the NAG and BN submissions on the Bill, and a ‘What is Naturism’ leaflet. I emphasised that we felt it was well meaning legislation, just badly constructed, as it would hit inappropriate targets as well as neighbourhood yobs.

The way it was left was that he will make enquiries of who is on the Parliamentary Committee currently considering it, and do some research with them on the definition issue. He asked me to make a suggestion of a better definition, which is where you come in. I’d like some ideas on a better definition of Anti-social Behaviour we could suggest for S1 of the Act (to add to my own thoughts). I need to write to him within the next few days, so don’t delay folks! Put your ideas as comments below please.

 

I don’t expect too much from this exchange, but he may stimulate someone else. We have to try everything, the stakes are high.

7 Responses to Ideas needed on the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime & Policing Bill 2013

  • The current definition under the old Crime and Disorder Act was perfectly fine I thought.

    …..Acting in a manner that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as themselves.
    Crime and Disorder Act 1998

  • …acting in a manner that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to a reasonable person.

  • I do not like the idea of a “reasonable person” it is too subjective. I believe that the illegal behaviour would need to be more extreme along the lines of ” harassment, fear or endangerment”.

  • As they keep inventing new laws or tweaking old laws to deal with the very real problems of disorderly or anti-social behaviour, naturism gets caught up with it. This is because some people will claim that nudity is disorderly or anti-social when it suits them.

    The first point we need to address is that there is a lot of prejudice towards naturism. The police have been known to use s.5 of the Public Order Act to tell someone to dress or face arrest because being naked can be considered disorderly and may cause harassment, alarm or distress to another person in sight.

    With the proposed Antisocial Behaviour Crime & Policing Bill and “behaviour capable of causing annoyance or nuisance to any person”. This widens the scope for prejudice. It would mean that naturists might need to be even more careful than they already are so as not to cause any offence whatsoever, and even if they are careful, they could end up on the wrong side of the law.

    I would like to draw parallels with nursing mothers who over the years have faced similar prejudice from people who think that feeding your child in a public place is somehow wrong, even if the nursing mother is being discreet. Scotland now has a law to prohibit anyone from stopping someone feeding a child in a public place. It means that at least in Scotland, the law is firmly on the nursing mother’s side and while prejudice may well still exist, there is nothing that can be done to restrict the nursing mother.

    So to combat all these laws (that were never designed to prosecute naturists), we need to be able to call on the law to show that what we are doing is non-aggressive, non-threatening and non-sexual and therefore exempt from being caught up in other legislation designed for behaviour, which is.

    To achieve that, we would need a law, which specifically prohibits the state of nudity to be used against anyone, to pre-judge them, or to make any assumptions about them. The Scots have done it with the Breastfeeding Act. We need to do it with ‘The Naturism Act’. If we don’t, so long as there is prejudice out there we will always be finding ourselves caught up in legislation which was never designed to restrict our own freedoms as naturists.

  • . . . acting in a manner causing a reasonable fear of violence or bodily harm to a reasonable person.

  • Anti-social behaviour is:-

    a) any instance of conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance targeted at a vulnerable person or persons.
    b) conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance persistently targeted at a person or persons.
    c) conduct likely to cause alarm or distress to a person of normal susceptibility.

  • Thanks to all who have given views, advice and other help in formulating my latest reply to my MP. The result is copied below. I know it will not please everyone, as there was such a range of opinion and emphasis. However everyone has the right to contact their own MP on this, and I hope a lot of people will do so, as it needs wide support to get a change.
    Although Andrew Turner took the point as regards the naturist case, I have not repeated it in the letter as I don’t want him thinking my concern is very narrow and therefore not worthy of support. I genuinely feel this is a threat to any minority group. Also, I have not gone beyond the definition of Anti-social behaviour, as to do so could confuse him, and it is the major weakness in the Bill, which of corrected would leave little to fear.
    Thanks again for your help.
    Best wishes,
    Duncan
    ——————————————————————————–

    20th August 2013
    Dear Mr Turner,
    Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill (HC Bill93)
    Thank you for taking the time last Friday to discuss my worries regarding the definitions within this Bill. You expressed concern yourself, as to how the over-wide definition of Anti-social Behaviour in S1(2) of the Bill could lay an otherwise worthy piece of legislation open to misuse in the hands of persons pursuing personal agendas of things they dislike.
    Having raised the matter with you, previously by correspondence, and now face-to-face, we left it that you would do some research with the Parliamentary Committee who are currently considering it, to finally decide on your own stance. In the meantime, we agreed it may be helpful for me to offer a wording for a redrafted S1(2), which would allay my fears – and I hope yours also, without reducing the effectiveness of the Bill in dealing with the genuinely yobbish behaviour it is really aimed at.
    To remind you, S1(2) of the Bill currently reads as follows:

    “(2) The first condition is that the court is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities,
    that the respondent has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of
    causing nuisance or annoyance to any person (“anti-social behaviour”).”

    My suggestion is that this wording be replaced with the following;
    “(2) The first condition is that the court is satisfied;
    (a) that the respondent knowingly has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct which is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to a reasonable person, or:
    (b) that the court is satisfied, that the respondent has knowingly engaged or threatens to engage in persistent or targeted conduct which the respondent knows or ought to know will materially reduce the quality of life of a reasonable person affected by it
    (“anti-social behaviour”).”

    In coming to this suggested definition I have consulted widely, including with respected organisations which are actively campaigning to have the current S1(2) changed, such as Liberty and Shelter. I believe the suggested wording would still give the Police and Local Authorities the power they are seeking to deal swiftly and effectively with genuine antisocial behaviour, whilst protecting innocent minorities from officials who may merely consider their activities annoying. I have also strived to make this suggested definition consistent with similar legislation such as the Public Order Act 1986, and the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

    I know the Government are saying they do not want the Bill “watered down”, and that we can rely on case law, guidance notes and the ‘reasonableness’ of enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system to limit abuses of power. However, statute always overrides case law, and guidance notes do not have the scrutiny of Parliament and can also be changed without Parliamentary scrutiny. Though most enforcement agencies are objective and well run, there are exceptions, and always will be so long as human beings are involved. Similarly, the justice system is generally well run, but is also capable of bizarre decisions based more on personal preferences than The Law.

    I therefore urge you to take this matter seriously and enter in to the Parliamentary debate to get a proper, workable and safe definition of Antisocial Behaviour. I look forward to hearing your further thoughts when you have completed your research.

    Again, thank you for your time and consideration.

    Yours sincerely,
    Duncan Heenan

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