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Harassment: Fines

Volume 495: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many people were fined for offences of using threatening words or behaviour likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 in each year since 2003; (282975)

(2) how many people were fined for offences of intentionally harassing or scaring people in each year since 2003.

The number of persons issued with a fine at all courts for the offences of using threatening words or behaviour likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress and intentionally harassing or scaring people in England and Wales for the years 2003-07 (latest available) is shown in table 1.

These data are on the principal offence basis. The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences, the offence selected is the one for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Court proceedings data for 2008 will be available in the autumn of 2009.

Under the penalty notice for disorder (PND) scheme, the police can issue a fixed penalty notice of £80 for the offence of ‘Using words, conduct likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress’ (S5 of the POA 1986). The number of PNDs issued in England and Wales for the years 2004-07 (latest available) can be viewed in table 2. PNDs are not available for offences committed under section 4A.

The PND was made available to all 43 forces in England and Wales from April 2004.

PND data for 2008 will be available in the autumn of 2009.

Table 1: Number of persons issued with a fine at all courts for offences relating to ‘Causing harassment, alarm and distress’, in England and Wales, 2003-071,2

Fine

Statute

Offence description

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Public Order Act 1986 Sec 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Sec.31(l)(b),(4)

Racially Aggravated causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress

97

94

91

87

134

Public Order Act 1986 Sec 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Sec.31(1)(b),(4)

Religiously aggravated causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress

0

4

0

2

1

Public Order Act 1986 Sec 4A as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 Sec.31(1)(b),(4)

Racially or religiously aggravated causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress

15

24

21

22

34

Public Order Act 1986 Sec 5

Harassment, alarm or distress

9,932

10,296

9,972

10,235

10,832

Public Order Act 1986 Sec 5 as amended by Crime and Disorder Act Sec.31(1)(b),(5)

Racially Aggravated Harassment, alarm or distress

551

642

724

866

970

Public Order Act 1986 S.5 as amended by Crime and Disorder Act 1998 S.31(1) (c) and 5

Religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress

6

6

5

14

18

1 The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

Source:

Evidence and Analysis Unit—Office for Criminal Justice Reform, Ministry of Justice.

Table 2: Number of penalty notices for disorder (PNDs) issued to offenders aged 16 and over for the offence ‘Causing harassment, alarm and distress’ in England and Wales, 2004-071,2Number200428,790200564,007200682,235 200777,8271 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.2 The penalty notice for disorder scheme commenced in 2004.Source:Evidence and Analysis Unit—Office for Criminal Justice Reform, Ministry of Justice