Goodbye to ASBOs?

Goodbye to ASBOs?

ASBOs were brought in by Tony Blair as part of his Respect agenda in 1999, but since 2005 their issue has fallen by almost half. Now the Home Secretary has confirmed that the term ASBO is to be dropped. In what is described as “a radical streamlining exercise”, the battery of 19 different powers, including ASBOs, developed by the Labour government to tackle antisocial behaviour, is to be replaced by five orders containing similar powers.

In launching a consultation exercise on these proposals, Theresa May said: “Despite more than a decade of targets, government initiatives and seemingly endless legislation, the police receive over 3.5 million reports of antisocial behaviour a year, and many more incidents are reported to councils or social landlords, or not reported at all.” The buzzword is ‘toolkit’. The Under-Secretary of State for Crime Prevention, James Brokenshire, said: “Instead of providing a specific tool to deal with every problem, we aim to introduce a handful of faster, more flexible and more effective tools that allow practitioners to protect victims and communities and get to the root of the problem…an effective toolkit to deal with anti-social behaviour – one that is quick, practical, easy to use and provides a real deterrent to perpetrators”.

The key proposals are to replace the ASBO and a range of other court orders targeted at anti-social individuals with new tools:
• Criminal Behaviour Orders – civil preventative orders that could be attached to a conviction, to protect the public from behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
• Crime Prevention Injunctions – designed to stop anti-social behaviour before it escalates. The injunction would carry a civil burden of proof, making it quicker and easier to obtain than the ASBO.
• Community protection orders (level one) – to replace litter clearing, graffiti removal and noise abatement notices.
• Community protection orders (level two) – to replace crackhouse and brothel closure orders, designated public place orders, special interim management orders, gating orders and dog control orders.
• Police “direction” power – to replace dispersal orders and direction to leave powers, giving the police and community support officers the power to tell any individual causing or likely to cause crime or disorder to leave a particular place, and to confiscate related items, such as alcoholic drinks.
• Community trigger – similar to the “community call to action” on the statute book since April 2009, police action can be triggered by five individuals from different households.

Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “This appears to be more of a rebranding exercise than anything else and is a missed opportunity to adopt a more effective approach for dealing with children and young people who are deemed to be anti-social.” He added: “From our experience strategies that seek to tackle issues through mediation and conflict resolution can be much more effective than using criminal or civil sanctions.”

Your views on the proposals are sought, and you have until 3 May. The full text of  the consultation paper ‘More effective responses to anti-social behaviour’ is at:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/consultations/cons-2010-antisocial-behaviour/asb-consultation-document?view=Binary

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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