The offence may be committed in a public or private place.

Affray is a public order offence in England and Wales under Section 3 of the Public Order Act 1986. This is one of three related public order offences found in the Public Order Act 1986. The other offences being riot (Section 1) and violent disorder (Section 2 ).


The offence of affray consists of a person using or threatening unlawful violence towards another and their conduct is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their personal safety.


The reference to a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their personal safety is intended to operate as an objective test but it is not necessary for a person of reasonable firmness to have been at the scene (Davison (1992)).


There must be some threatening conduct, besides the use of words, and which is directed towards a person or persons. Words alone are not enough. Violent conduct towards property alone is not sufficient for the purposes of an offence under section 3.


The House of Lords in I, M and H v DPP (2001) had ruled that there must be a threat to someone who is actually present at the scene. In the case in question police arrived at a residential area in response to a telephone call and found some 40 to 50 youths in a group some 8 or 9 were carrying petrol bombs made out of petrol filled milk bottles. It was claimed that the group were members of the 'Canon Street Boys' who were intending to have a fight with the 'Barnado Boys.'


Lord Hutton was quite clear when he stated 'The present case demonstrated that a person should not be charged with the offence (the case concerned the offence of affray but the principle holds good) unless he used or threatened unlawful violence towards another person actually present at the scene …..'


Lord Hutton also indicated that giving the statutory words "threatens unlawful violence" their ordinary and natural meaning the carrying of dangerous weapons, such as petrol bombs by a group of persons could, in some circumstances, constitute the threat of violence, without those weapons being waved or brandished.


The offence of affray is triable either way and carries a maximum sentence of three years if convicted on indictment.




Violent Disorder


Football fans jailed for affray over fight at Leeds station - General ...

House of Lords - I and Another (A.P.) (Appellants) and Another v





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