The Concerns Surrounding Community Protection Notices
CThe Concerns Surrounding Community Protection Notices
A lot of attention is currently being given within the legal community to Community Protection Notices (CPNs), with critics raising many concerns about the way in which they are presently being used.
In a recent case (Stannard v The Crown Prosecution Service  EWHC 84 (Admin)) a CPN in the following terms was challenged:
“The notice now requires that you:
1 – are not to enter the area of Reading Town Centre as defined by the map overleaf unless there is a prearranged appointment with a court or probation worker.
2 – are to give notice of a prearranged appointment to Thames Valley Police by calling ‘101’ at least 24 hours prior to the relevant time.
3 – are not to attend within 100m of any McDonald’s restaurant in Reading.
4 – are not to be in a group of more than 3 individuals including yourself.”
It was submitted by the Appellant at trial that there wasn’t, in fact, any case for him to answer on the alleged breach because the requirements in the CPN were too wide to be considered reasonable – in that they were not just unnecessary, but they were also not proportionate to address the risk that the Appellant posed – and it was consequently unlawfully imposed. The CPN was considered to be invalid and could not be enforced against him.
However, this was then rejected by the District Judge on the basis that the validity of the CPN was not for her to consider. Any argument relating to the validity of the CPN should have been raised by way of an appeal against the CPN. After this decision was made, the trial commenced and the judge found the breaches established on the evidence, and the Appellant was convicted.
CPN – The Case For The DefenCe
The main issue raised through this appeal was whether a defendant is open to argue against the validity of a CPN in defence of a prosecution for breach of a CPN.
The court ruled that ‘…the District Judge was therefore right to conclude that the CPN was binding on (and enforceable against) the Appellant unless and until it was varied or discharged: accordingly, she could not look behind it and did not have jurisdiction to hear the Appellant’s arguments going to the validity of the CPN.’
However, the court then issued the following guidance which we believe has the potential to be extremely useful:
“Of course, if the CPN remains as it is, and if the Appellant is again prosecuted for breach, he will not be able to raise the argument he has raised before District Judge Toms and us by way of defence at trial. However, we make clear that, the failure of this appeal does not mean that the Appellant is fixed with the CPN in its current form for evermore. If he has concerns about the scope of the CPN or its indeterminate nature, he should raise them with the Thames Valley Police and seek a variation of the CPN. If they wrongly refuse to vary, judicial review will be available.
More generally, we emphasise that those who are authorised under section 43(1) of the 2014 Act should recognise that they have power not only to issue, but also to vary and discharge a CPN in appropriate circumstances. It is not for this court to tell authorised persons how to go about their decision-making, but we would think it a minimum that such persons should operate a system for receiving and adjudicating requests for variation or discharge of CPNs; and that relevant information should briefly be given with any CPN about how to seek a variation or discharge (e.g. on a change of circumstance), in addition to information required by statute about a statutory appeal.
CPNs constitute a significant interference with an individual’s freedom; they must be clear in their terms and proportionate in their effect. We make two final comments. First, we consider it would be best practice and consistent with legal certainty for any CPN to be limited in time, with that term clearly stated in the CPN. Secondly and more generally, we emphasise the need for authorised persons prior to issuing a CPN to consider with care the prohibitions and restrictions imposed to ensure that they go no further than is necessary and proportionate to address the behaviour which has led to the CPN being made.”
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