Anti-social behaviour and the law
Communities can suffer greatly when anti-social behaviour becomes a problem in their area. The law gives local authorities and the police certain powers to take action. The police also work closely with head teachers to deal with anti-social behaviour in schools.
Action can be taken in many different ways:
- letters and interviews warning people to stop behaving badly
- acceptable behaviour contracts / agreements educating individuals that certain behaviour is unacceptable and supports that individual to behave responsibly
- ordering groups of people to break up and leave the area, these are also known as ‘Dispersal Areas’
- individual support orders (where a young person involved in anti-social behaviour might have to attend counselling or guidance sessions)
- parenting orders (similar to individual support orders but for the parent or parents of a young person involved in anti-social behaviour)
- if certain illegal drugs are found to be used in a building or venue it could be closed down
- repossession proceedings against a tenant (someone living in a house being told they cannot live there anymore)
- anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs)
Many acts which may constitute anti-social behaviour are also criminal offences and people who commit them may be arrested.
Anti Social Behaviour Orders
An ASBO sets out rules that you must stick to. If you are given an ASBO, this does not mean that you have a criminal record. But if you break the terms of your ASBO, then you have broken the law and further action will be taken. This is likely to mean you being arrested and you could go to prison.
New Anti-Social Behaviour Law
In March, a new Act of Parliament set out changes to the law regarding anti-social behaviour. These new powers will come into effect in late October and are designed to simplify the older orders and injunctions.
The new Injunction is designed to replace the existing Anti-Social Behaviour Order and Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction along with Individual Support Orders. Applications are now made in the County Court instead of the Magistrates Court for adults and in the Youth Court for under 18s.
An Injunction granted for a person under 18 can only last for 12 months and as well as restrictions being placed upon the person regarding their behaviour, positive requirements can now be added, for instance anger management courses or some other form of structured activity designed to divert a person from anti-social behaviour.
Social Landlords will also be allowed to apply for an injunction relating to their tenants who act in an anti-social manner and cause nuisance and annoyance to their neighbourhood.
The new Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) replaces the existing ASBO upon Conviction and can be granted by a court when a person is found guilty of any criminal offence and has previously been involved in anti-social behaviour. Applications can only be made by the prosecutor and this will take place in the Magistrates or Crown Court for adults and the Youth Court for under 18s.
A CBO granted for a person under 18 has a maximum term of 3 years and must be reviewed annually. As for injunctions, positive requirements as well as restrictions can be imposed as part of the order.
New Dispersal Powers will allow police officers and PCSOs to direct any person to leave a specified area where they believe they have, or are likely to, engage in anti-social behaviour for up to a maximum of 48 hours. There is no longer a requirement for there to be two or more people present and Police also have the power to seize any items in your possession that they believe are to be used in an anti-social manner. People under the age of 16 and not in company of a responsible adult can also be returned home by the Police if within the specified area.