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New measures to replace anti-social behaviour orders in England and Wales

The orders have been criticised as being used by some offending youths as a badge of honour and having little practical impact on communities affected by anti-social behaviour.

British Home Secretary Theresa May
British Home Secretary Theresa May
Image: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT has announced new measures to replace controversial anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) which have been criticised by some as being used as a badge of honour by anti-social youths in England and Wales.

BBC News reports that the British Home Secretary Theresa May is proposing to introduce a new set of orders in England and Wales that will replace ASBOs.

The proposal include the introduction of a ‘community trigger’ which would force police, councils and other local agencies to act if there are several complaints against a person.

Under the proposals, a ‘crime prevention injunction’ will allow agencies to protect victims from hooligans and vandals at short notice, while a ‘criminal behaviour order’ will stop convicted criminals from engaging in certain activities or going to particular places.

The British government is also promising a faster process to evict tenants who are anti-social and a faster process to deal with irresponsible dog owners, an issue which has arisen in the wake of a number of cases where toddlers and young children have been mauled to death by dogs.

ASBOs were introduced by the last Labour Party government in the late 90s to deal with anti-social behaviour in England and Wales. Such behaviour can take the form of vandalism, noise, nuisance and violence.

Critics said that the orders did little to discourage those who had been the subject of an order from carrying out other offences. Some offenders considered an ASBO to be a badge of honour.

The current Conservative-led government committed to changing the system when it came to power in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats two years ago.

May told ITV’S Daybreak programme that the current ASBOs take too long to implement, saying: “So one of the things we will see with the new orders we are introducing is that it will be possible with some of them to get them in place within days, certainly possibly even within hours.”

But her proposals have been criticised by the Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA) which said that the new measures will make little difference to the current system.

“There is a risk that if these new measures are not accompanied by necessary support in communities – youth clubs, family support and health services – they will do little in the long term to tackle this important issue,” the CJA’s Vicki Helyar-Cardwell is quoted as saying on AFP.

Ireland also has ASBOs but it was reported last November that Gardaí had imposed just three orders on individuals since their introduction in 2007.

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Hugh O'Connell

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