Public Order Powers

Home Department written statement – made on 1st February 2013.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government have today published a summary of the responses to this consultation and a copy has been placed in the House Library. The summary is also available on the Home Office website.

The Home Office published a consultation paper on 13 October 2011 to seek views on aspects of public order powers, one of which was the effect of the word “insulting” in section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. The summary published today relates to responses on that issue.

Having considered the views of respondents and both Houses of Parliament, the Government intend to remove the word “insulting” in section 5.

The Government believe that behaviour such as swearing at police officers and burning poppy wreaths on Remembrance day are completely unacceptable and the police must have the powers they need to deal with them. However, in the light of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ view that the word “insulting” could safely be removed without undermining future prosecutions, the Government have decided not to reverse the amendment to this effect made on 12 December 2012 in the House of Lords to the Crime and Courts Bill.

The Government will ensure that the police have clear guidance on the range of powers that remain available to them for dealing with the sort of behaviour covered by section 5.

The Government are considering the consultation responses on proposals to strengthen existing police powers to demand removal of face coverings and the introduction of new powers to impose a general curfew. A response will be published by the end of March 2013.