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Gang related injunctions

This content applies to England & Wales

Injunctions specifically aimed at dealing with 'gang related' violence and drug dealing activity.

Power to grant injunctions

A court may grant an injunction to prevent violence and drug dealing activity (a ‘gang injunction’) against a person aged 14 or over where it is satisfied on the balance of probabilities (ie the civil standard of proof) that:[1]

  • the person has engaged in, encouraged or assisted gang related violence (including threats of violence and violence against property) or drug dealing activity (including supply, importation or exportation of a controlled drug or psychoactive substance
  • an injunction is necessary to prevent the person from engaging in, encouraging or assisting this conduct, or to protect her/him from gang related violence or drug dealing activity.

Hearings to decide whether an injunction should be granted are not criminal trials and the application of the civil rather than the criminal standard of proof does not breach Article 6 of the ECHR.[2]

Gang related activity

A gang related activity is one which occurs ‘in the course of’ or is ‘otherwise related to’ the activities of a group which:[3]

  • consists of three or more people
  • has characteristics enabling its members to be identified by others as a group.

Applying for a gang injunction

The following authorities can apply for a gang injunction:[4]

  • the police in a particular area
  • British Transport Police
  • a local authority.

Before applying for an injunction, the authority must have regard to the statutory guidance published by the Home Office which sets out considerations that should be made.[5]

Without notice applications

Applications for injunctions may be made without giving notice to the perpetrator.[6] This power is intended for situations where an injunctions are needed quickly or where giving notice may put witnesses at harm or risk the perpetrator fleeing.[7] Where a without notice injunction is requested, the court can either adjourn the hearing or dismiss the application.[8] Where the hearing is adjourned, it can also grant an ‘interim injunction’ (see below).[9]

Hearsay evidence

Hearsay evidence is permitted, although it is likely to be given less weight by the court than first hand evidence. Statutory guidance suggests that this might be used where witnesses fear intimidation or reprisals.[10]

Children

Where the perpetrator is a child, the authority making the application must have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.[11] Before applying for an injunction, the authority must consult any appropriate local authorities or police forces, the youth offending team for the area and any other appropriate body or individual.[12]

Content of injunction

A gang injunction can prohibit a person from particular behaviour and/or make certain requirements of her/him as it sees fit.[13] Any conditions imposed must, where practicable, avoid:[14]

  • conflict with the perpetrator’s religious beliefs
  • interference with the perpetrator’s work or education.

Prohibitions and requirements

A gang injunction can prohibit the perpetrator from, for example:[15]

  • being in a particular place or area (an ‘exclusion zone’)
  • meeting with particular persons in a particular place
  • being in control of a particular species of animal (eg, a dangerous dog) in a particular place
  • wearing specified clothing in a particular place
  • using the internet to encourage violence or drug dealing activity.

An injunction can compel the perpetrator to, for example:[16]

  • notify the authority who applied for the injunction of her/his address and any changes
  • be in a particular place at specified times (for up to eight hours per day) and report to a specified individual when there
  • participate in particular activities such as a drug misuse course.

Interim injunctions

An interim injunction can be granted where a hearing is adjourned (which might be because the application was made without notice or because further information is needed).[17] Where an interim injunction is obtained following a without notice application, it cannot require the perpetrator to participate in activities.[18]

Length of injunction

A gang injunction can be granted for a period of up to two years.[19]The court can provide for review meetings to consider varying or discharging the injunction.[20] A review should be ordered:[21]

  • in the last four weeks of the first year of the injunction if it lasts for longer than a year
  • within four weeks of the subject’s 18th birthday, if applicable.

Variation and discharge of injunction

Gang injunctions can be varied or discharged by the court:[22]

  • at a review meeting
  • on application by the authority who applied for the injunction or the perpetrator.

Where the authority who applied for the injunction requests a hearing to consider variation, it must consult with any parties it consulted before it obtained the injunction.[23] A variation may make the conditions of the injunction more or less onerous.[24]

Penalties and power of arrest

The court can attach a power of arrest in the case of breaches of the conditions of the injunction (except a condition which requires the perpetrator to participate in a particular activity).[25] A power of arrest can be attached to either a full or an interim injunction.[26]

If a power of arrest is attached, and the police have reasonable cause to suspect a breach, then the perpetrator can be arrested without a warrant.[27] The person who applied for the injunction (police or local authority) must be informed.[28] If no power of arrest is attached, then the person who applied for the injunction can apply to the court for a warrant of arrest. [29] Breaching a gang injunction is a civil rather than a criminal offence. The punishment for:

  • an adult could be a fine or a prison sentence for contempt of court[30]
  • a child could be a supervision order (which can impose requirements such as supervisions and curfews) or a detention order (placing her/him in youth custody).[31]

The burden of proof in establishing whether an injunction has been breached is the criminal standard of proof, ie ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.[32]

The mandatory antisocial behaviour grounds for possession are not available where a person has breached a gang injunction.[33] However, a landlord may be able to seek possession using discretionary grounds for possession of assured or secure tenants.

Legal aid

Legal aid is available for people accused of antisocial behaviour and threatened with injunctions or committal following a breach of an injunction. Both housing and criminal legal aid solicitors can provide advice and representation at court. More information about the civil legal aid scheme can be found in civil legal aid.

[1] ss.34 and 49 Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[2] Jones v Birmingham CC [2018] EWCA Civ 1189.

[3] s.34(5) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[4] s.37 Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[5] s.47(6) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[6] s.39(1) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[7] para 9.1 Injunctions to Prevent Gang-Related Violence and Gang-Related Drug Dealing: Statutory Guidance, Home Office, May 2016.

[8] s.39(4) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[9] s.41 Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[10] para 7.5 Injunctions to Prevent Gang-Related Violence and Gang-Related Drug Dealing: Statutory Guidance, Home Office, May 2016.

[11] s.11 Children Act 2004.

[12] s. 36 Policing and Crime Act 2009; para 6.1 Injunctions to Prevent Gang-Related Violence and Gang-Related Drug Dealing: Statutory Guidance, Home Office, May 2016.

[13] s.34(4) and s.35(6) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[14] s.35(5) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[15] s.35(2) and s.35(7) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[16] s.35(3) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[17] s.40(1) and s.41(1) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[18] s.41(3) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[19] s.36(2) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[20] s.36(3) and s.36(5) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[21] s.36(4) and s.36(4A) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[22] s.42(1) and s.42(2) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[23] s.42(5) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[24] s.42 Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[25] s.36(6) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[26] s.36(6), s.40(3) and s.41(4) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[27] s.43(2) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[28] s.43(3) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[29] s.44(2) Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[30] para 12.9 Injunctions to Prevent Gang-Related Violence and Gang-Related Drug Dealing: Statutory Guidance, Home Office, May 2016; s.14 Contempt of Court Act 1981.

[31] Schedule 5A Policing and Crime Act 2009.

[32] Practice Direction, RSC 52 and CCR 29.

[33] s.84A Housing Act 1985; ground 7A, Sch.2 Housing Act 1988.

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