Law guide: Complaints & disputes

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Rowdy and nuisance behaviour

Rowdy and nuisance behaviour



Rowdy and nuisance behaviour causes distress to other people and deters them from using public spaces.

Rowdy and nuisance behaviour includes drunken behaviour which results in fighting, urinating on the streets, intimidating passers-by, criminal damage, shouting, swearing and hooliganism.

It may be two or three families and their wider network of contacts creating havoc on a housing estate or inner city neighbourhood.

Your local authority must make it clear to everyone that swift and effective action will be taken against unacceptable behaviour, and that rowdy and nuisance behaviour must be stopped immediately.

What can be done?

There is a wide range of criminal offences that can be used to clamp down on rowdy or nuisance behaviour. These include drug and alcohol-related offences, criminal damage, harassment (see our section 'Intimidation and harassment') or assault. In addition, civil orders such as injunctions or anti-social behaviour orders can be used to protect the community from continued anti-social behaviour.

Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) are the first stage of intervention for many low-level disorder offences. They offer speedy and effective action that frees up police, local authority and court time. They also ensure that all unacceptable behaviour is challenged. The offender receives an immediate punishment which, if paid, will not result in a criminal record.

Penalty notices for disorder are issued for offences such as throwing fireworks, being drunk and disorderly, causing harassment, alarm or distress, causing criminal damage over £500 or giving a false alarm to a fire or rescue service.

PNDs can be issued to anyone over 16 years old and attract penalties of £50 or £80 depending on the offence.

PNDs can be issued by the police and in a limited capacity by police community support officers (PCSOs) and accredited persons.

Recipients of PNDs have 21 days to pay the penalty or to request a court hearing. If they do neither, the penalty can be increased by 50 % and registered as a fine and payment enforced by a court.

For more information on ASBOs and PNDs, see our 'Anti-social behaviour' section

Follow through

Any enforcement should be followed by supportive intervention to help individuals change their behaviour.

For 10-17 year olds, this could include an individual support order attached to an ASBO to tackle the underlying causes of the behaviour and offer support for behaviour change. Where rowdy behaviour is related to drinking, support to tackle the problem and work with parents to improve their parenting skills, can be effective.

Engaging youth services in outreach work early in the problem-solving stage can lead to effective solutions such as improved diversion activities and facilities for young people.

For more information on measures to manage anti-social behaviour, see our 'Anti-social behaviour' section.