It’s not always criminal solicitors that are called out to people finding themselves arrested and in the cells over the Christmas period, it could also be a specialist housing solicitor.
Breach of an anti-social behaviour order can, under certain circumstances, lead to arrest by the police. What happens next and the process that needs to be followed is not well known (not even to the police).
Anyone arrested has to be dealt with by the civil court within 24 hours (not including Sundays). Judges have been known to be called out at the weekend or during the Christmas break. Court buildings are opened or sometimes the Judge will even make an appearance at the Police Station. A housing solicitor will tell you that if the Judge has not seen the arrested person within the time scale then they have to be released. The usual police process to hold people for longer simply doesn’t apply.
With changes due to come into force in January, the current anti-social behaviour injunction will be extended, particularly to children. The current injunctions have been in place for years yet we, as housing lawyers, are still telling the police what their powers are now.
The person who has been given the injunction has even less chance of knowing what his or her rights are. It can often be that people only get advice about an injunction once they have been arrested (even though they should have already had opportunity to explain their position to a Judge). This can be because people don’t know where to get help from.
The specialised team of housing advisors at Stephensons can help at any stage from the initial notice up to an application for committal. Breach of an injunction can lead to a two-year imprisonment so getting the right help as early as possible is vital.
By Joanne Ellis - Partner and head of the Housing team
If you do need any help then contact 01942 774912. For urgent out of hours court assistance, please call our 24 hour number on 07836 574607 and if necessary hearings will be dealt with.