Saturday, June 01, 2013

Told You So

The unloved and largely ineffective Anti-Social Behaviour Order is slowly slipping out of use (which is not to say that none has ever worked). Two weeks ago I sat on a bench that imposed an ASBO on a confused Eastern European woman who was making a nuisance of herself on a regular basis. On Friday she was in the cells and back on my list for breaching the Order. The Guidelines suggest that she will go inside this time, and given her apparent lack of a normal reasoning process she may be facing the Revolving Door syndrome.
There must be a better way


  1. It begs the question, if she was confused when the order was imposed and you feel there must be a better way, why impose an order in the first place?

  2. Each week our local paper has a roundup of the mags court proceedings. Every few weeks the same names reappear for breaching an ASBO and the same ruling is given each time - 'ASBO to continue'. As if that's any deterrent.

  3. I've been a magistrate for some eight years and during that time have never sat on a bench that has handed down an ASBO - not from any intrinsic aversion to them or because colleagues don't believe they work, but simply because it has never seemed the right thing to do. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a defendant on an ASBO.

  4. Shortly after its introduction on a perceived need to "do something about" rowdy gangs of youths or "neighbours from hell" in the absence of a criminal offence to charge them with, the local government powers that be dreamed up a wonderful extension, quickly supported by those in command of the emergency services; ASBO effectively became MDPCO - mentally disordered persons control order - with such ridiculous prohibitions as 'Not to be drunk in a public place' (homeless alcoholics), 'Not to call out the emergency services unless there was a genuine emergency' (Paranoid schizophrenic), to mention but two that I came into contact with on breach. In these and countless similar cases, it was clear that a) it was not appropriate to discharge the order and b) that any action taken would constitute punishing the person for behaviour that was outside their control by virtue of illness, serious addiction, or both.
    The only remaining practical solution was c) sigh deeply and direct that the order continue. You may disagree, but please don't shoot the pianist.

    1. An enlightening account. Thank you.
      Kate Caveat

  5. Just like Anon 13.13, I too have sat for eight years and never given an ASB0; bench colleagues I have spoken too say much the same. I have never seen one recommended, although on one occasion we imprisoned someone for breaching their ASBO for the second time.

  6. The driver is the attitude of the local authority and the local police. Some are keen on ASBOs, some hardly ever apply for them, hence regional variations.

  7. I have given one ASBO in my 20 odd years to a 'middle class' nightmare neighbour who promptly went on to breach it several times. He ended up in the Crown Court and I think ultimately spent some time courtesy of Her Maj which given his attitude and arrogance was no great surprise!! Will I miss it? Absolutely not.

  8. That, to me, sounds like one of the few situations where giving one would be appropriate. If nothing else it presumably gave his poor neighbours a bit of respite, and until the drunks and mentally ill he may even have been able to make the connection between his actions and their consequences.

  9. Round our way we had a local beggar who was unpleasant to those who didn't give him money and was generally anti-social. His dog allegedly bit some non-donor too. He turned out to have a flat (in a housing association block) and was living quite well off his begging income. He was also a menace to his neighbours who are trying to get him evicted.

    Result - he got an ASBO courtesy the efforts of the local authority. He breached the ASBO within hours (more begging, dog not muzzled as directed by the ASBO).

    The question now is - what should be the sanction for the almost immediate breach and what to do with this guy a) in the short term and b) in the longer term?

    Answers on a postcard please.....


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