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Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

Section 132 and Schedule 23: Penalty notices for disorderly behaviour

710.Penalty notices for disorder (“PNDs”) were introduced by Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (“the 2001 Act”). They may be issued where a police officer has reason to believe that a person has committed a “penalty offence”, that is one of the offences listed in section 1 of the 2001 Act (which include drunk and disorderly behaviour, possession of cannabis, petty retail theft and causing criminal damage). Recipients of a PND have 21 days either to ask to be tried for the alleged offence or to pay in full the fixed penalty so as to discharge their liability to be convicted for the penalty offence. Failure to do either of these things may result in the registration of a fine against the individual equal to one and a half times the penalty amount.

711.Section 132 gives effect to Schedule 23, which confers a new power on Chief Officers of Police to set up within their area a scheme which will allow police officers, where appropriate, to issue penalty notices with an education option. This gives recipients the opportunity to discharge their liability to be convicted of the penalty offence by paying for and completing an educational course related to the offence for which the notice was given. An educational course might, for example, seek to make individuals aware of the social and health implications of their conduct and would be designed to reduce the likelihood of further offending.

712.The Schedule also:

  • ensures that a PND may not be given to a person under the age of 18;

  • removes the requirement that a police officer issuing a PND to an individual other than at a police station must be in uniform; and

  • removes the requirement that police officers in a police station may not give a PND unless they are “authorised constables”.

713.Paragraph 3 of the Schedule amends section 2 of the 2001 Act so as to allow a constable to offer an education option to a person given a PND where an educational course scheme which relates to the offence committed has been established by the Chief Officer of the police force concerned. Recipients of a penalty notice with an education option will have the opportunity to discharge their liability to be convicted of the penalty offence by paying for and completing the course. For example, a person suspected of committing the offence of being drunk and disorderly might be offered a penalty notice with an option of paying for and completing an alcohol awareness course instead of paying the penalty amount or asking to be tried.

714.Paragraph 3 also:

  • amends section 2 of the 2001 Act so as to prevent PNDs from being given to persons aged under 18;

  • repeals section 2(6) to (9) of the 2001 Act which makes provision for the Secretary of State by order (subject to the affirmative Parliamentary procedure) to allow PNDs to be given to persons under the age of 18 but over the age of 10, and to provide for the parents of a person aged under 16 who is given a PND to be informed of the notice and to be liable to pay the penalty; and

  • confers a power on the Secretary of State to make regulations (subject to the negative Parliamentary procedure) about the revocation of PNDs.

715.Paragraph 3 further amends section 2 of the 2001 Act so as to remove the requirement that:

  • a police officer issuing a PND at a location other than a police station must be in uniform;

  • a police officer issuing a PND in a police station must be an “authorised constable”.

716.Paragraph 4 inserts a new section 2A into the “2001 Act”. This confers power on the Chief Officer of a police force to establish an educational course scheme in relation to one or more kinds of penalty offence committed in the Chief Officer’s area. It stipulates the necessary arrangements a scheme must include; requires that an educational course must aim to reduce the likelihood of the recipient of the penalty notice re-offending; and makes provision about who may provide an education course. It is for the Chief Officer to set the course fee (which must be paid by the person who attends the course). The Chief Officer may arrange for courses to be provided by his or her force, another force, or by a private provider.

717.New section 2A also:

  • allows the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police Force to establish an educational course scheme in relation to penalty offences committed on a railway and other places where that force has jurisdiction; and

  • confers power on the Secretary of State by regulations (subject to the negative Parliamentary procedure) to specify the minimum and maximum level of an educational course fee, and allow for the sharing, between the police and those involved in running educational courses, of personal information about an individual who has selected the education option.

718.Paragraph 5 amends section 3 of the “2001 Act” (which concerns the amount of the penalty and the form of the penalty notice) in particular:

  • to repeal the provision allowing the Secretary of State to specify by order a different level of penalty for persons of different ages (currently £80 for persons aged 18 or over or £50 in the case of person aged under 18 – see S.I. 2002/1837);

  • to confer a new power on the Secretary of State by regulations (subject to the negative Parliamentary procedure) to require a penalty notice with an education option to include, or be accompanied by, additional information to that which is provided in a PND without that option.

719.Paragraph 6 inserts new subsections (6) to (10) into section 4 of the 2001 Act (which concerns the effect of a penalty notice with an education option).

720.New subsections (6) to (8) allow for a sum equal to one and a half times the amount of the penalty to be registered as a fine for enforcement against a recipient of a PND with an education option where the recipient:

  • fails within a period of 21 days beginning with the date on which the notice was given either to ask to attend an educational course, or to pay the penalty, or ask to be tried for the offence to which the notice relates; or

  • asks within that 21 period to attend a course, but then fails to pay the course fee or pays the fee but fails to attend or complete the course in accordance with regulations made under subsection (9).

721.New subsections (9) and (10) confer a number of new powers on the Secretary of State to make regulations (subject to the negative Parliamentary procedure) in order to make provision:

  • as to when an offender will be treated as having attended or not attended a course;

  • allowing for extensions of time for attendance on a course (for instance where the offender is unwell) and as to who should determine requests for an extension;

  • as to the consequences of the offender failing to attend;

  • allowing for the delegation of certain determinations (for instance as to whether extensions of time for completing a course should be granted).

722.Paragraph 7 amends section 5 of the 2001 Act so as to prevent a criminal prosecution for a penalty offence being brought against a person given a penalty notice with an education option who:

  • asks during the 21 day suspended enforcement period to attend an educational course, unless that person subsequently fails to pay the fee for the course or fails to attend and complete the course; or

  • having asked to attend, then pays the fee and completes the course in accordance with regulations made under section 4(9).

723.Paragraph 8 allows the Secretary of State to issue guidance about educational course schemes under section 6 of the 2001 Act.

724.Section 10 of the 2001 Act concerns enforcement of fines registered against a person given a penalty notice who then fails to pay the penalty amount. Subsection (5) allows a magistrates’ court to set aside a fine in the interests of justice. Paragraph 10 of the Schedule inserts a new subsection (7) into section 10. It confers a new power on the Secretary of State to make regulations (subject to the negative Parliamentary procedure) specifying the directions or orders the court may or must give if it sets aside a fine relating to a penalty notice with an education option.

725.Paragraph 11 inserts a new section 10A into the 2001 Act. This sets out the Parliamentary procedures relating to any power of the Secretary of State to make orders or regulations under Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the 2001 Act, provides for them to be made by statutory instrument, and confers supplementary powers. New section 10A replaces existing provisions currently found in sections 1(4) and (5), 2(8) and (9) and 3(5) and (6), which are repealed.

726.Paragraphs 13 and 14 make amendments consequential upon the repeal of the requirement that constables must be uniform when giving penalty notices, in particular to the Police Reform Act 2002 (which allows for community support officers, accredited persons and accredited inspectors to issue fixed penalty notices).

727.Paragraph 15 repeals section 87 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which amended section 2 of the 2001 Act so that PNDs could be issued to persons aged under 18 years.

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