The Association of Convenience Stores has welcomed the publication of the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill, which includes new measures to protect local shops from persistent abuse from low-level offenders.
The Bill aims to streamline current legislation on anti-social behaviour by reducing the number of Orders available to the police from 19 down to six, and give businesses and communities more say with local authorities and police when dealing with responses to criminal activity and the punishment of offenders.
Measures introduced in the Bill today include:
• Community Trigger - enabling businesses to hold their local authorities and police to account by placing a duty on local agencies to deal jointly with complaints where it is felt no action has been taken.
• Community Remedy - giving victims of low level crime and anti-social behaviour offences a say in the type of punishment given to an offender.
• Community Harm Statements – allowing a recognised template for communities to communicate the harm that has been caused by anti-social behaviour. The harm statements can be used to inform judges of the wide impact of anti-social behaviour on the community better informing their sentencing decisions.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Anti-social behaviour around local shops blights the lives of retailers, staff, customers and communities themselves. We are pleased the Government has listened to retailers’ concerns by including them within the new community trigger. This means that businesses’ concerns must be taken seriously and prompt a response from the police and local authorities."
Anti-social behaviour remains a significant problem for local shops. Research conducted in November for ACS shows that 69% of retailers have experienced some form of verbal or physical abuse in their job over the last year.
Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne said: “In many towns and cities across the country, convenience stores and local shops are the centre of the community, bringing people together every day. However, many of these small businesses find themselves subject to persistent anti-social behaviour, from the intimidation of staff to outright criminal damage.
“The new powers the Government is introducing will ensure that frontline professionals have the powers they need to deal with this anti-social behaviour faster and more effectively. In addition, the Community Trigger will allow businesses that are victims of persistent anti-social behaviour to hold their local agencies to account if nothing is done.
“I want to thank the Association of Convenience Stores and its members for their involvement in the build up to this legislation. As we move one step closer to these new powers coming into force, I look forward to that relationship continuing to ensure that the voices of shop keepers are heard.”