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Public Nuisance


Owning a laser pen is not an offence, they are generally used by lecturers to highlight points when making a presentation. The vast majority of shop-bought laser pens will be relatively weak; meaning that exposure to the beam of such products would not result in an eye injury.

The website in 'Related Information' explains the different classes of lasers; classification based upon the power of the laser in question. The Health Protection Agency suggests that no laser pens more powerful than Class 2 be available for general sale, due to their potential to cause injury.

Whilst owning a laser pen is not illegal if a person had one in the street and was using it (or intending to use it) to shine in people's eyes, at cars or aircraft etc. then they would be committing an offence and, in the case of cars and aircraft, a particularly serious offence. They may also be personally liable to a Community Protection Notice for anti social behaviour, namely unreasonable behaviour of a persistent or continuing nature which has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality.


If you do not wish to take part in the survey or donate to the charity etc, the best response is to say "No thank you." and walk away. Remember you are under no obligation to buy or give. They should not chase you down the street, shout after you, or block your path. 

If you do experience such behaviour you can make a complaint to the company or charity who they are representing. You may need the name of that person. Most workers work for third-party agencies that have contracts with charities.

If you think the person is a bogus charity collector, tell the charity or report them to your local police.

If you do stop then you should be told that they are being paid for collecting on behalf of a charity.

For further information, please visit the website in related links.


Yes, it could be an offence to urinate in the street which may be provided for in local byelaws or, depending on the exact nature of the behaviour, it may be captured by other criminal offences, such as public order offences.


A Community Protection Notice (CPN) is aimed to prevent unreasonable behaviour that is having a negative impact on the local community's quality of life.
Any person aged 16 years or over can be issued with a notice, whether it is an individual or a business, and it will require the behaviour to stop and if necessary reasonable steps to be taken to ensure it is not repeated in the future.

CPNs replace current measures including litter clearing, defacement removal and street litter control notices. Below are examples of when a CPN may be issued;

  • when a dog is constantly escaping through a broken fence the owner could be issued a CPN requiring that the fence be fixed to avoid further escapes,
  • a notice could be issued to a local shop/supermarket who are allowing litter to be deposited outside the property, or
  • to prevent anti-social behaviour such as regularly playing loud music in a public area

Police officers, local authorities and designated PCSOs can issue CPNs but before doing so they must consider two things; whether the conduct is having a detrimental effect on the community's quality of life and also, whether said conduct is considered unreasonable. The individual must be given a written warning beforehand stating that if the behaviour doesn't cease, the notice will be issued.

The notice can be appealed in the Magistrates' Court within 21 days. Failure to comply is an offence and may result in a fine or a fixed penalty notice. To apply for a CPN or to enquire further, you will need to contact your local policing team. You can do this via the non-emergency 101 number or alternatively by visiting your local force's website.


A Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) focuses on more serious offenders, who engage in criminal activity as well as anti-social behaviour. It can only be issued in conjunction with a sentence that is already imposed or if the individual has a conditional discharge.

The order will either prohibit the offender from doing anything, or require them to do anything, as described in the order e.g., attendance at a course to reduce the behaviour. Before imposing an order, the court must be satisfied that the offender has engaged in such behaviour that caused, or was likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person and that making the order will help in preventing the offender from engaging in such behaviour.

An example of when a CBO may be issued would be where an individual has committed a drug-related offence and as part of the order, must attend a course educating offenders on the effects of substance abuse.

The order will begin from the day it is issued and, for those under 18 years old it will last between 1 and 2 years, being reviewed every 12 months from the day it was made. For adults over 18 the order will last a minimum of 2 years and can last indefinitely. Failure to comply is a criminal offence and as such can result in imprisonment and/or a fine.

For further information, we would advise that you contact your local policing team. You can do this by visiting your local force's website, alternatively, you can use the non-emergency 101 number.


Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) propose to deal with a particular nuisance in a particular area that is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life for those in the local community. It can prohibit certain things or require specific things to be done.

An example of when a PSPO may be issued could be to help keep dogs under control within a public place such as a park. It may require that the dog is kept on a lead at all times and/or the dog is only allowed in certain areas. Alternatively, it may prohibit the consumption of alcohol in a specific place.

When deciding whether an order should be issued, the local authority must consider two things:

Firstly, whether the behaviour is having a detrimental effect, or is likely to have this effect. Secondly, whether the effect/likely effect of the activities is of a persistent nature making the behaviour unreasonable and rendering restrictions imposed by the notice as justified.

It can be made to apply to all people, or limited only to certain people and can be restricted to specific times. A PSPO can last no longer than 3 years but can be renewed if necessary. Failure to comply with the order can result in a fine or a fixed penalty notice.

For more information, please see the link in the Related Information section. To apply for a PSPO or to enquire further, you will need to contact your local policing team. You can do this via the non-emergency 101 number or alternatively by visiting your local force's website.


Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions (ASBI) are civil injunctions and do not give the individual a criminal record. ASBIs have been introduced as one of the replacements for the ASBO; it can tackle a diverse range of anti-social behaviour problems.

Not only can it prohibit behaviour, but it can also require the individual to take positive action in dealing with the underlying cause of said behaviour. If positive action is required, the authority must feel this is necessary and appoint an individual/organisation to ensure compliance with this.

An injunction can be given to anyone aged 10 years or over if two conditions are met. Firstly, the court must be satisfied that the individual has engaged/threatens to engage in anti-social behaviour. Secondly, it must be considered convenient and just in order to prevent the behaviour.

Breaching an ASBI is punishable as contempt of court, and for an adult, it can lead to imprisonment and/or a fine. For those under 18 years the penalty could either be a supervision order or a detention order being made.

For further information or if you wish to apply for an ASBI you will need to contact your local policing team. You can do this by visiting your local force's website (linked in the Related Information) or via the non-emergency 101 number.


A dispersal order is used in a wide range of situations in order to offer immediate relief to the community. These powers enable officers and PCSOs to direct a person who has engaged/likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, to leave a specified area and not to return for a period of 48 hours. The 'specified area' cannot include the place where they live/work.

The officer must believe that the behaviour is contributing/likely to contribute to anti-social behaviour and/or crime in the area and as such using the powers would be necessary to reduce crime levels. It may include confiscation of items (e.g. alcohol) and is available to anyone that appears over 10 years of age.

An example of when dispersal powers may be used would be if an individual was consuming alcohol in a town centre and as a result was being verbally abusive to members of the public. Failure to comply is a criminal offence and can result in imprisonment and/or a fine.

For further information on these powers, we would advise that you contact your local policing team. You can do this via the non-emergency 101 number or alternatively by visiting your local force's website.


Cyber-flashing is the sending of obscene pictures to others over peer-to-peer Wi-Fi networks, such as AirDrop.
AirDrop is a feature on iPhones, iPods and iMacs that uses Bluetooth to create a peer-to-peer Wi-Fi network between devices. When switched on, it automatically detects supported devices within a radius of 10 metres. Although AirDrop can be used in a harmless way as it allows people to share photos with family and friends, some people are using the facility to send obscene pictures to strangers, usually whilst they travel on trains or buses. This can take place anywhere where there is a Wi-Fi signal.
The victim receives an obscene picture on their device with a message request to accept it from the sender. The victim can see the picture whether or not they accept. This may cause the victim to be distressed and embarrassed, making them feel vulnerable, as they do not know who or why the person sending the photo has targeted them.
This behaviour can potentially fall within the offences of harassment or public nuisance. There is also a specific offence of cyber flashing. If you receive an obscene picture from a stranger in this way, whilst you are travelling on the rail network, take a screenshot of the photo and report the incident to the British Transport Police.
In order to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of cyber-flashing over AirDrop, you can turn Airdrop off on your iPhone when you are not using it:
1 Go to Settings > General > AirDrop
2 Choose the option – Receiving Off
This will stop your device receiving AirDrop requests.

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