Gang injunctions have been relatively unused in the Manchester area despite having been available for the police and local authorities to apply for since January 2011 for adults and January 2012 for juveniles over 14 years old under the Policing and Crime Act 2009. They are a civil order that when granted by the County Court or High Court allow restrictions or requirements to be placed on persons known to be involved in gang related violence. New legislation under section 51 of the Serious Crime Act which came into effect on 1st June 2015 changes requirements of the previous 2009 Act. It has been recognised that the way gangs operate has changed. A gang may not have a name, emblem, colour or any other characteristic which enables its members to be identified as a group, but that a group people may engage in criminal activity in an organised way without those features. The new act also extends to a wider range of criminality as gangs may not only be involved in violence but also in drug dealing.
The purpose of a gang injunction is to prevent the respondent from engaging in, or encouraging or assisting, gang-related violence or gang-related drug dealing activity; and/or to protect the respondent from gang-related violence or gang-related drug dealing activity.
Under the new Serious Crime Act 2015 a gang is a group that:
Consists of at least three people; has one or more characteristics that enable its members to be identified by others as a group; and engages in gang-related violence or is involved in the illegal drug market.
The identifying characteristics of a gang may relate to the use by the group of a common name, emblem or colour, its leadership or command structure, association with a particular area or involvement with a particular unlawful activity.
The court can still attach prohibitions or requirements to an injunction such as conditions not to go to a particular place or associating or contacting certain named persons, even requiring them to participate in activities on particular days.
Gang injunctions are now much more likely to be applied for given the amendments and cover a much wider area of criminal activity. In relation to those under 18 years old the proceedings will now also from 1st June be heard in the Youth Court instead of the County Court. The injunctions if granted could be very restrictive on a persons every day life given the requirements which could be imposed upon them and if the orders are breached they can result in custodial sentences for both youths and adults.
We would advise that you contact us if you are informed an application for an injunction is to be made against you, as these applications can be contested and given the implications of an injunction being granted it is important you receive advice and assistance before the injunction is imposed.
Claire Campling, Accredited Police Station Representative, Burton Copeland.