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Just two ASBOS issued since 2010 as much-criticised system is shunned

However most than 3,500 behaviour warnings, the first step to an ASBO, have been issued – including 1,200 to children.

Students protest the introduction of ASBOs in Dublin city centre in 2005
Students protest the introduction of ASBOs in Dublin city centre in 2005
Image: Haydn West/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A TOTAL OF just two ASBOs have been handed out since 2010 as the much-criticised system is shunned in favour of more effective methods of keeping the peace.

The controversial measure was introduced by then-Minister for Justice Michael McDowell in 2007 aping the British system at the time.

However the legislation introduced under McDowell which gives Irish courts the power to issue ASBOs also allows Gardaí to issue behaviour warnings – which have proved much more popular.

Almost 2,500 behaviour warnings have been given out to adults since January 2010 with another 1,241 handed out to children, according to new figures released by Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

Under the Criminal Justice Act, Gardaí can issue a behaviour warning either in writing or orally to anyone who has behaved in an anti-social manner. The order demands that the person ceases or addresses the behaviour, and includes a warning that a full ASBO may be issued if they continue, according to the Act.

The ASBO system was criticised upon introduction for superimposing an extra layer of bureaucracy into the criminal justice system. Just seven ASBOs were handed out in the first five years of operating.

Anti-social behaviour is defined as any kind of behaviour which can intimidate or harass someone else, or impair their use or enjoyment of their property.  Offences typically range from playing loud music or loitering outside someone’s home.

Alan Shatter told the Dail this week:

In setting up the regime in the Act the intention was that the different interventions would address the problem behaviour. If they succeeded, there would be no need to apply to the courts for an order.
It is only if they failed to lead to a behaviour adjustment by the person in question, that a court order would be applied for.

Explainer: Why have just seven ASBOs been issued in Ireland in five years? >

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