Nuisance behaviour by groups of people, such as drinking alcohol in the street or trespassing on private property may not always be a police matter. However, sometimes this activity can lead to criminal behaviour and pose a risk to the wider community at which point we do need to be involved.
Common types of nuisance behaviour
It’s not always a criminal offence to drink alcohol in the street. However, individuals or groups of people drinking alcohol together can sometimes lead to rowdy or disruptive behaviour.
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 persistent nuisance or you believe they’ve caused, or plan to cause, damage or harm, it is usually a civil matter and you may need to seek the advice of a solicitor.
However, certain forms of trespassing, generally those which involve squatters, raves and hunt saboteurs are covered by criminal law. There are offences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 Sections 61 and 62 of trespassing on land and trespassing with vehicles.
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.
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 number of ways to get help and support.
- Report street drinking or public drug use that is causing a nuisance
- Report trespassers on your property that have threatened you or caused criminal damage to the police by calling 101.