Nuisance behaviour by groups of people, such as drinking alcohol in the street, taking drugs in public places, or trespassing on private property may not be against the law. However, this activity can lead to criminal behaviour and pose a risk to the wider community. Here you can find out the most common types of nuisance behaviour and what you can do about it.
Common types of nuisance behaviour
It is not ordinarily a criminal offence to drink alcohol in the street but public space protection orders may be in place in certain areas to restrict the consumption of alcohol associated with anti-social behaviour. Drinking in these areas could result in a fine or fine notice by the police.
Trespassing is when someone is on private property or travels across it without the property owner’s permission. This includes both private land and buildings.
It can be worrying to find someone trespassing on your property, and you might be tempted to immediately call the police. However, unless the trespasser is causing a nuisance or you believe they’ve caused, or plan to cause, damage or harm, this is a matter for your local council rather than the police.
What is the impact?
People gathering together in public is not an offence. However, if drink or drugs are involved this can sometimes lead to disruptive noise. This can then escalate into aggressive, violent or lewd behaviour, such as intimidation or verbal abuse of passers-by, fighting or urinating in public. All of which are offences.
If people are drinking or taking drugs they may leave litter behind, including hazardous materials such as needles, syringes, swabs, wraps and gas canisters. This is a particular concern as it can pose a health risk to other members of the public, pets and wildlife.
What you can do
If you know the people involved, or they seem approachable, our first advice would be to talk to them peacefully. After all, they may not be aware they’re causing a problem. If they are trespassing on your property you have the right to ask them to leave.
However, do not take the law into your own hands by intervening, such as making physical threats or attempting to confiscate items. You may make the situation worse and even risk committing an offence yourself.
If talking hasn’t worked, or you would prefer not to talk to those involved, there are a couple of ways to get help and support.
Visit your local council’s website to see if they have a community warden service. Community wardens help prevent antisocial behaviour and have the power to confiscate alcohol from anyone drinking in the street.