Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Justice for an update on the development of new legislation to tackle anti-social behaviour, following the 2018 consultation Anti-social Behaviour Legislation in Northern Ireland.
Minister of Justice: Responsibility for anti-social behaviour (ASB) legislation sits across a number of Government Departments and my officials are currently leading a cross Departmental, multi-agency Review Delivery Group to review this.
This Group is currently considering nine legislative powers, with four of these added to the agenda in direct response to feedback received via the consultation. As well as considering ASB legislative powers, the Review Group is also considering if non-legislative mechanisms can be used just as effectively to address ASB issues.
Policy responsibility for any potential new power or powers arising from the review, and consideration of the effectiveness of equivalent powers in NI, sits across three government departments – Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Department for Communities (DfC) and Department of Justice (DoJ). Whilst my Department is leading on the legislative review, we do not own the levers to ensure delivery of those powers which sit outside the remit of DoJ.
At an operational level, the Review Group has expanded the scope of their considerations to include measures raised by consultees and it is inevitable that further consultations will be required if some of the new proposals are to proceed to legislation. This will offer further opportunity for stakeholders to shape how we tackle ASB in Northern Ireland.
To date I can inform you that considerations have been taken forward for a number of powers, namely Absolute Grounds for Possession, Civil Injunctions and provisions relating to noise nuisance, with relevant submissions for these currently with the appropriate Minister.
Where legislative change is to be taken forward, the timescale for implementation will depend on each Departmental lead and their legislative work programme. Where my Department is identified as the lead for bringing forward any new ASB legislation under any of the policy areas, such as those relating to Criminal Behaviour Orders; Dispersal Powers or a Community Trigger, my officials will make this a priority piece of work.