Case Studies

We have split the application of ASBOs into six different categories; cases involving their use against children, against protesters, on conviction, in relation to general public order offences, against those with mental health problems and in extreme circumstances.

Children

Home Office guidelines for the Crime and Disorder Act stated that "ASBOs will be used mainly against adults" but in practice children are increasingly being targeted. Individuals as young as ten are criminalised for their nuisance behaviour and then "named and shamed" within their community, a stigma, at such an early age, that will not easily wear off. For those children whose behaviour really does call for state intervention ASBOs are often proving not to be an effective remedy. There are frequent media reports of orders being treated as little more than a badge of honour which would totally undermine their intended role as a deterrent. In total, 45 per cent of orders are made against juveniles of which 42 per cent are breached and which results, 46 per cent of the time, in immediate custody for its holder (Home Office press release). It is that around 50 children a month are being incarcerated under anti-social behaviour legislation. In August 2004 the government also announced plans to track and monitor all children who have a parent in prison (see Guardian "Government plans to 'track' criminals' children" 16/8/04). Already in its Children Bill, published on 4th March, the government has outlined the introduction of cradle to grave surveillance for children (See Statewatch analysis, April 2004).

Click here for examples of ASBOs given to children.

Protesters

The government is currently attempting to set a precedent for the use of ASBOs and other anti-social behaviour legislation against protesters. Similarly, a Home Office consultation document, entitled Modernising Police Powers to Meet Community Needs (August 2004, pdf), set in motion further restrictions against the act of protesting outside homes.

Click here for examples of ASBOs given to protesters.

"CRASBOs"

A CRASBO is an addition to a criminal sentence and is considered separately from the criminal part of proceedings. The term is somewhat erroneous because, like all ASBOs, they are civil orders. There is no formal application process, so usually the Crown Prosecution Service requests the court to impose the order. It will come into effect on the day it is made, although it is possible for the court to suspend the prohibitions in the order until the offender is released from custody. This would mean the order only runs from that point. "CRASBOs" are effectively a double punishment, based on the assumption that the individual will re-offend, and therefore undermine the prison service's role as a rehabilitative institution.

Click here for examples of "CRASBOs".

General public order

ASBOs are increasingly being used to combat a wide range of public order offences. However, the targeting of prostitutes and beggars seems to have done little more than cause their displacement to other areas. They are also increasingly being used to target vandalism including graffiti and "flyposting" in what has become the first example of a "white collar" ASBO against BMG. Graffiti artists have also been targeted by the Anti Social Behaviour Act under which powers to remove graffiti have been extended to private property.

Click here for examples of ASBOs used to deal with general law-and-order issues.

Mental Health

Click here for examples of ASBOs given to people with mental health problems.

Extreme Cases

As the use of orders has increased, courts have become bolder and more inventive with regard to tailoring them around an individual's case. Many of these prohibitions are absurd simply because the act liable to land them a prison term is so clearly not of a criminal nature.

Click here for examples of extreme ASBOs.