Headlines: November 13th, 2002

Local councils and other agencies are being urged to play their part in the crackdown on anti-social behaviour. The Home Office Minister, John Denham, made the call when he unveiled new joint guidance on the use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts.He said they were powerful tools which had been radically overhauled to be made more effective and efficient and he called on all agencies to make more use of the orders. ” The Government cannot work alone and tackling anti-social behaviour needs a commitment from all areas of the community. Police, local authorities, housing, magistrates, social and youth groups must all work in partnership to more effectively tackle this problem that is such a blight on people’s lives, ” he told a conference in London.

ASBOs prohibit offenders aged ten or over from certain acts or specific areas. More than 650 have been granted since April 1999. Changes which will come into force from December 2nd will include agencies being able to apply for an Interim ASBO to stop anti-social behaviour earlier and help protect witnesses. An order will be able to cover a wider area, up to the whole of England and Wales if necessary, to address the problem of people moving and continuing their anti-social behaviour in other areas, and courts will be able to issue an order against a person who has been convicted of a criminal offence, so removing the need for a separate legal process.

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts are voluntary agreements where people involved in anti-social behaviour agree with local agencies to stop offending behaviour.

The new joint guidance includes clear practical advice on how these measures can be used to protect communities as well as giving examples of best practice. Introducing the guidelines Mr. Denham said, “Anti-social behaviour is a blight on people’s lives and can do lasting damage to fragile communities. ASBOs and ABCs are key tools in tackling low level crime and disorder and, when used effectively, increase the community’s confidence in the ability of the local authority and police to deal with the problem.”