Anti-social behaviour involving animals

Information and guidance on anti-social behaviour involving animals and the methods used to control it

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduced simpler, more effective powers for local authorities and the police to tackle antisocial behaviour. The Act defines ASB as:

  • Conduct that has caused, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person,
  • Conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation or residential premises, or;
  • Conduct capable of causing (housing-related) nuisance or annoyance to any person.

This also covers any situation where animals are creating a nuisance or people’s behaviour associated with the use of animals is deemed as antisocial.

For instance, in relation to dogs, the antisocial behaviour powers could be used to tackle issues that include, but not limited to, a dog that persistently strays and causes a nuisance in doing so, dogs which cause a nuisance in parks, and dogs used to intimidate persons in the locality.

There are several methods that can be used to control antisocial behaviour involving animals:

Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) – used by officers to address potential issues early and reduce the need for more formal measures. An ABC is a non-legally binding, non-statutory agreement allowing the council to engage with an individual about their inappropriate behaviour. ABC’s can require an individual to comply with conditions. Although breach is not an offence, it can be used as evidence for further legal action.

Community Protection Notice (CPN) – a statutory notice that can be issued to an individual over the age of 16 to stop anti-social behaviour for low level incidents, eg a dog owner failing to control their dog and causing nuisance to others/other animals or the owner of a horse that continually escapes from its field and strays onto the road.

The behaviour must:

  • be having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
  • be persistent or continuing in nature and
  • be unreasonable

A CPN can require an individual to do specified things, prohibit an individual from doing specified things, make an individual take steps to achieve specified results. In relation to dog issues, requirements may include muzzling, keeping a dog on a lead, attend training or behavioural classes. In a situation where a horse is continually escaping from its field it may include replacing the fencing.

Before a CPN is issued a Community Protection Notice Warning (CPW) must be issued to the individual giving a reasonable time for the behaviour to stop. The CPW is a written warning which must also make clear to the individual that non-compliance may result in a CPN being issued.

Breach of a CPN – it is an offence not to comply with a CPN. An individual convicted of a breach of a notice is liable to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (£2500).

Injunctions – An injunction can be applied for against individuals aged 10 or over who are engaging or threatening to engage in antisocial behaviour. The order is obtainable on the civil standard of proof ie ‘on the balance of probabilities’ and used for more serious higher level incidents eg intimidation, attacks or incidents involving other animals, an individual has engaged or threatens to engage in antisocial behaviour.

Breach of an Injunction is contempt of court and an application can be made to the court for an arrest warrant. In serious cases, an individual over 18 can receive 2 years imprisonment/unlimited fine. An individual under 18 can receive a supervision order/detention order.

Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO)– allows authorities to deal with the most serious and persistent offenders where their behaviour has brought them before a criminal court. An order can require individuals to comply with prohibitions to stop the antisocial behaviour.

Anti-social behaviour with dogs can be fuelled by and run alongside other behaviour that can have a serious and harmful impact on victims and communities and the CBO can be used in cases of serious offending by the most destructive individuals. For example, an order can be applied for following convictions under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and other relevant legislation.

Breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order is a criminal offence and carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Read about how Three Rivers aim to combat antisocial behaviour and view our corporate antisocial behaviour policy here.