What is an ASBO?
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders
were a key part of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and came into
force on 1 April 1999. Since modified, by the Police Reform Act
2002 and the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, orders ban individuals
from entering certain areas or carrying out specific acts for
a minimum period of two years (see Home Office website).
An application for an ASBO can
be made to a magistrate by police forces (including the British
transport police), local authorities, housing action trusts and
registered social landlords and imposed on an individual whose
behavious is deemed to be "anti-social." This was defined
by a government guide to ASBOs on their crime reduction website
"behaviour which causes
or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or
more people who are not in the same household as the perpetrator"
ASBOs also take the form of interim
orders (made by the magistrates' court or the county court ahead
of a full hearing), county court orders (obtained when other
proceedings against an individual are underway such as possession
of tenancy) and "orders made on conviction in criminal proceedings"
(where the criminal courts can serve an order on an individual
convicted of a criminal offence). The latter has become known
as a "CRASBO", but this is a somewhat erroneous term
because the key point remains that, as in all cases, they are
This means that in the application
process, for an ASBO, there is no jury and hearsay evidence is
admissible. If breached, the individual has committed a criminal
offence which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison
for adults, and a two year detention and training order for under
Enforcing the orders has frequently
proven difficult, so to encourage the public to take an active
role recipients are often "named and shamed". Between
April 1999 and December 2004, 4,649 ASBOs were issued in England
and Wales and that number rose by over 100% by the end of 2005
to 9,853. By December 2007 14,972 ASBOs had been issued. The
latest Ministry of
Justice statistics (pdf), published in July 2010, put
the total number of ASBOs issued at 16,999. An area-by-area breakdown
can be found here and has also been more attractively
laid out by The Guardian here.
In February 2007, the government,
in response to a freedom of information request, revealed that
47% of these orders have
been breached. It was reported in May 2008 that this
figure has since risen
to 67%. The July 2010 statistics put the overall figure
at 55%, with 65% of children breaching their order at least once.
If an ASBO is breached, it is breached an average of 4.2 times.
July 2010 Ministry of Justice
statistics also revealed that, since 2004, the majority of ASBOs
have been issued in the form of "CRASBOs".
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