Intentional harassment, alarm or distress

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Intentional harassment, alarm or distress is a statutory offence in England and Wales. It is an aggravated form of the offence of harassment, alarm or distress under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

The offence[edit]

The offence is created by section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986, which was inserted by section 154 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994:

Mode of trial and sentence[edit]

This is a summary offence. It is punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both.[1]


Section 4A(4) of the 1986 Act formerly provided that a constable (or designated person) could arrest without warrant anyone he reasonably suspected was committing this offence. This was repealed by section 174 of, and Part 2 of Schedule 17 to, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

Racially or religiously aggravated offence[edit]

Section 31(1)(b) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (c.37) creates the distinct offence of racially or religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress.


  1. ^ The Public Order Act 1986, section 4A(5)


  • Blackstones Police Manual Volume 4 General police duties, Fraser Simpson (2006). pp. 251. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-928522-5
  • Rowan Atkinson's speech at Reform Section 5 Parliamentary receptionYouTube