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Councils to tackle nuisance premises

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Councils have acquired tough new powers to close premises which have become hotbeds of anti-social behaviour.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has announced that the closure order, which until now have only applied to crack houses, will be extended to any properties which have become associated with persistent nuisance behaviour.

Similar closure powers have been in force in Scotland since 2004, during which time 26 premises have been closed.

Under the powers, which were created under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, police and local authorities can apply to magistrates' courts to close any privately owned, rented, commercial and local authority premises.

Owner-occupiers and tenants will be able to return to their properties after three month period and will continue to be monitored to ensure they have changed their behaviour.

Local authorities and police can apply for an extension if they believe it would be in the community's best interest. Anyone who breaches the terms of the order by returning to the premise could face up to six months in prison and or a£5,000 fine.

Councils and police forces will be encouraged to use the closure powers as a last resort once other avenues for dealing with the anti-social behaviour have been exhausted.

Ms Smith said: "The new premise closure order power will enable police forces and local authorities to close any premises - privately owned or rented accommodation - that cause significant and persistent disorder in the local community. That means no-one will be able to hide from the law if they cause serious nuisance to their neighbours.”

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