Q&A What are anti-social behaviour orders? ASBOS are civil (rather than criminal) orders imposed on individuals by the courts. They restrict a person from doing anything specified, usually behaving in a certain way or going to a certain place. Why were th
What are anti-social behaviour orders?
ASBOS are civil (rather than criminal) orders imposed on individuals by the courts. They restrict a person from doing anything specified, usually behaving in a certain way or going to a certain place.
Why were they introduced?
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Tackling disorder in communities was a central plank of Labour's law and order policy on coming to power in 1997.
In 1998 it introduced the Crime and Disorder Act, which targeted individuals and families who made life difficult for other residents through theft, intimidation, drunkenness, violence and other anti-social behaviour.
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How are they imposed?
ASBOS are imposed by magistrates' courts after an application by a case officer, usually an employee of the local council. The case officer has to tell the court details such as the people and incidents involved and the restrictions of the proposed ASBO.
The court will also hear about welfare issues, family circumstances, attempts at mediation and warnings and evidence that the defendant has not been victimised or discriminated against. The court then decides what prohibitions to apply.
An ASBO has to last for at least two years but can be indefinite. It must be "reasonable and proportionate and realistically practical."
ASBOS do not need to only refer to criminal acts, but can prohibit actions which, although not criminal themselves, would be necessary steps before a criminal act - such as a ban on entering a shop rather than on shoplifting.
Appeals against ASBOS can be made to a Crown Court.
What happens when they are breached?
Breaching an ASBO is a criminal offence, for which a defendant can be arrested.
The police investigate breaches and can obtain information from any source including housing and other local authority officers, neighbours and members of the public.
Occasionally, for offenders below 18 where the breach is not considered "flagrant", a final warning with an intervention programme maybe imposed.
But, usually, breach of an ASBO will result in prosecution and a court appearance.