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Public Order Offences


Public Order Offences – A Whistle Stop Tour

At Levins we often deal with people who have been arrested for Public Order Offences but what does that mean ?

There are numerous offences which come under the category of public order offences.  This includes, threatening behaviour, disorderly behaviour, harassment, affray and riot.  The law is further complicated by the fact that these offences are often racially aggravated or aggravated in some other way.

These types of criminal behaviour are often a pre-cursor to other types of offending such as assault.  Sometimes they are in the context of a domestic situation but they could as easily occur on a night out or even at a football match.  They are offences which ordinarily occur in a public place and involve harassment or the threat of violence towards someone.

If the police have arrested you in relation to this type of offence of you have been charged it is important that you seek professional legal advice.  The law is not easy to navigate as there is such a variety of charges at the polices’ disposal and in turn a number of defences.

The main offences are as follows:-

Disorderly Behaviour – S5 Public Order Act 1986

Threatening, Abusive or Insulting Behaviour.

This offence may be used for loud and unruly behaviour when leaving a pub which causes distress to residents.  It could also be becoming abusive to a passer -by.  It is at the lesser end of the offences and is punishable by fine only. This offence is commonly charged.  The most used defence is that of “reasonable behaviour”.

Threatening Behaviour – S4 Public Order Act 1986

This offence is committed by using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour intending to and causing harassment, alarm or distress

This is more serious than Disorderly Behaviour and it involves a level of threat.  Common examples include threatening emergency service personnel and a number of persons bullying someone but not using violence.

Intentional Harassment, Alarm or Distress – S4a Public Order Act 1986

This offence is often charged when it can be demonstrated that  abusive behaviour has been used toward somebody by using threats and insults.

It is a more serious offence than disorderly behaviour and there is an element of intent.  This might be inferred as the victim was vulnerable.  For example, abusive behaviour towards a young child by a group of teenagers.

Affray, Violent Disorder and Riot

The more serious offences under The Public Order Act are those of Affray, Violent Disorder and Riot.  These offences are similar except for the number of people involved in the act.  To commit affray 2 or more persons must be involved.  Violent Disorder involves 3 or more participants and Riot 12 or more.    Clearly the more people involved the more serious the offences is.  This is because the fear for personal safety is likely to be higher with more people involved.

Have you been charged with a public order offence?

Levins’ Crime Department has been in existence for over 30 years.  We have an expertise in all areas of criminal law due to the experience of our staff.  If you need assistance in relation to public order offences or other offences please contact us either by filling out our contact form here or by calling us on 0151 480 5777.

We deal with Public Order Offences within Huyton, Liverpool, Merseyside, North West, North Wales, Cheshire, Lancashire

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