In some cases it may be necessary to take legal action to stop anti-social behaviour. We will only take legal action where other approaches have been tried and failed or in cases where we need to act immediately to prevent violence or other very serious behaviour.
Types of legal action we can take include asking the court for:
- Injunctions – court orders that prohibit certain kinds of behaviour. Injunctions are often used to prevent violence, harassment or used to exclude a person form a home or area. If someone breaches an injunction they risk a fine or prison, and it also then becomes easier to ask for a possession order. If you are at immediate risk of violence we may be able to get an injunction straight away but this will be followed up with further hearings.
- Closure orders – where the court says that no one can enter a property for a set amount of time. Closure orders are used to close properties associated with drugs or persistent and serious anti-social behaviour. Judges take the decision to close a home very seriously as the people who live there will become homeless for a time.
- Possession orders – where we apply for to evict someone from their home. Often a judge will give a suspended order on the first application, which means the person can stay in their home as long as they behave. In really serious cases the judge may give an outright possession order, which means the person can be evicted shortly after.
For all legal action we need really good quality evidence. The best is when the person being affected gives direct evidence in court so the judge can hear first hand the affect of the behaviour on that person.
Court proceedings are not quick, and rarely happen in just one hearing. Once an application is made we rely on the court to schedule a hearing. Courts are often busy so this can sometimes take a while. If the perpetrator defends the action, the court will schedule full hearing of the evidence and this can often be more than one day, depending on how many witnesses there are.
You may find this leaflet from the Court Service useful for more information on what to expect.