118.New section 136B stipulates who can authorise the issue of a closure notice and on what grounds the issuing of a closure notice can be authorised.
119.Subsection (1) states that a member of a police force not below the rank of police superintendent can authorise the issue of a closure notice if three conditions are met.
120.Subsections (2) to (5) state that the first condition is that the member of the police force must have reasonable grounds to believe that during the relevant period the premises were used for activities relating to one or more of the specified prostitution offences and/or specified pornography offences. The relevant period is three months ending with the day on which the officer is considering whether to authorise the issue of the notice. This condition will not be met if only one person obtains all of the sexual services in question.
121.Subsection (6) provides that the second condition is that the officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the making of a closure order is necessary to prevent the premises being used for activities related to one or more specified prostitution or pornography offences.
122.Subsection (7) states that the third condition is that the local authority has been consulted and that reasonable steps have been taken to establish the identity of any person who resides on the premises or who has control of, responsibility for or an interest in the premises.
123.Subsection (8) ensures that an officer may authorise the issue of a closure notice for premises where he believes that a closure order is necessary to prevent activities relating to an offence from taking place, regardless of whether the officer believes the offence has already been committed or not.
124.Subsection (9) provides that the authorisation for the issue of a closure notice may be given orally or in writing, but should be confirmed in writing if given orally.
125.Subsection (10) provides that a closure notice can be authorised whether or not a person has been convicted of a prostitution or pornography offence that the authorising officer believes has been committed.
126.Subsection (11) enables the Secretary of State by regulations to exempt premises or descriptions of premises from the application of this section.
127.New section 136C specifies the required contents of a closure notice and how it should be served.
128.Subsection (1) stipulates what information the closure notice must contain. Subsections (2) to (5) state the requirements in relation to service of the notice. A constable must serve the notice by attaching a copy to at least one prominent place on the premises and any outbuildings, fixing it to each normal means of access to the premises and so far as is reasonably practicable giving it to people identified as residing in or having control of, responsibility for or an interest in the property. A constable must also serve the notice on any person who occupies any other part of the building in which the premises are located if their access will be impeded by a closure order unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
129.Subsection (6) states that an officer may use reasonable force to enter premises if necessary in order to effect service of the notice in accordance with subsection (3)(a) to (c).
130.Subsections (7) and (8) provide that a closure notice has effect until an application for a closure order is determined by the court, save that if an application for a closure order is adjourned, the closure notice ceases to have effect unless the court makes an order extending it until the end of the period of adjournment.
131.New section 136D provides the power to make closure orders.
132.Under subsection (1), once a closure notice has been issued, a constable must apply to the magistrates’ court for the making of a closure order.
133.Subsection (2) states that the effect of the closure order is to close the premises altogether, including to owners and residents, for up to three months. New section 136E(3) enables the court to include provisions in the order relating to access to any other part of the building in which the premises are situated.
134.Subsection (3) provides that the court must hear the application within 48 hours after the notice was served.
135.Subsections (4) to (10) stipulate the test which must be met before the court makes a closure order. As well as being satisfied that the premises have been used for activities relating to a specified prostitution and/or pornography offence(s) in the three months prior to the issue of the closure notice, the court must be satisfied that the making of the order is necessary to prevent the premises being used for activities relating to relevant offences in the future. The court must also be satisfied that before the issue of the closure notice was authorised, reasonable steps were taken to establish the identity of any person who resides on the premises or who has control of or responsibility for or an interest in the premises, and that any such persons have been given a copy of the closure notice if reasonably practicable to do so. Subsection 136D(6) excludes premises where only one person has obtained all the sexual services in question.
136.A closure order may be made whether or not the court is satisfied (for the purposes of the second condition) that the offence or offences have been committed or are yet to be committed. Either will suffice. It is also immaterial whether a person has been convicted of any specified prostitution or pornography offence where the court is satisfied that such an offence has been committed (subsections (11) and (12)).
137.New section 136E contains supplementary provisions relating to the making of closure orders.
138.Subsection (1) allows the court to adjourn the hearing for up to 14 days to allow the occupier or someone else with an interest in the property to show why an order should not be made, for example because the problems have ceased or the persons causing the problems have been evicted.
139.The court can order that the closure notice continues to have effect during this period (subsection (2)).
140.Subsection (4) means the closure order can be made in respect to the whole or any part of the premises for which the closure notice was issued.