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THREAT OF JAIL FOR NOISY NEIGHBOURS

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New laws giving councils the power to take immediate action against noisy, disruptive or abusive neighbours come in...
New laws giving councils the power to take immediate action against noisy, disruptive or abusive neighbours come into force this week, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p14). Ministers hope that the Anti-social Behaviour Orders, which were included in the Criminal Justice Act 1998 and take effect on Thursday, will rid residents of many inner-city estates of so-called neighbours from hell.

The orders forbid offenders from repeating anti-social behaviour and carry the threat of detention - even for offenders as young as 10 - for anyone breaching them. They could also be used to exclude offenders from specified areas. To obtain an order, councils or the police must show a magistrate that the offender's behaviour is 'likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress'. Victims will notusually need to give evidence, ending the fear of intimidation.

Local authorities have been largely unable to act against the minor, petty but persistent types of behaviour which can make people's lives a misery. Leeds City Council was virtually powerless against one family, whose children terrorised the neighbourhood, because residents were too scared to testify. The council eventually had the family evicted, but it was a cumbersome process.
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