Home Secretary announces end to 'ludicrous' system of Asbos

The Home Secretary yesterday read the last rites for Tony Blair's flagship policy for dealing with noisy neighbours, drunk teenagers, fly-tippers, graffiti artists and vandals.

Theresa May said it was "time to move beyond" the system of antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos) brought in by the last government to deal with low-level yobbishness.

Opinion has been divided over the merits of Asbos since their introduction 11 years ago. Labour ministers trumpeted the civil orders as an invaluable tool for nipping bad behaviour in the bud before it escalated into full-blown criminality. They also argued that the Asbo regime helped to improve the quality of everyday life across the country.

But critics protested that the numbers of orders handed out varied hugely between different councils and that young people who breached them found themselves caught up in the criminal court system. There was also evidence that having an Asbo became seen as a "badge of honour" for some youths.

Ms May yesterday declared that the system had failed, pointing to new statistics indicating that the use of Asbos had fallen to its lowest level and that more than half of those that are issued are breached. "We need a complete change in emphasis, with communities working with the police and other agencies to stop bad behaviour escalating that far," she said.

Attacking the last government for producing a "ludicrous list" of powers for tackling antisocial behaviour, she said: "These sanctions were too complex and bureaucratic. There were too many of them. They were too time-consuming and expensive and they too often criminalise young people unnecessarily, acting as a conveyor belt to serious crime and prison."

She announced a review of police powers, promising to replace Asbos with "simpler sanctions which are easier to obtain and to enforce".

Upon arriving in power Mr Blair vowed to mount a "personal crusade" against anti-social behaviour. In its election manifesto this year, Labour promised to toughen up the enforcement of Asbos. Almost 17,000 of the orders have been issued since their introduction, of which 55 per cent have been breached at least once. Jail sentences were given to 4,944 people for breaching the orders over this period.

The use of Asbos reached a high in 2005, when 4,122 were handed out, with the number falling in each subsequent year. In 2008, 2,027 were issued. A total of 1,266 Asbos were breached during the year, the highest rate on record.

Alan Johnson, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "There is no doubt that the introduction of Asbos has made a huge contribution towards tackling crime and anti-social behaviour."

David Blunkett, who championed the orders as Home Secretary, accused Ms May of posing "a major threat to the lives and well-being of those at the very sharp end of criminality and dysfunctional communities". But she was backed by the Association of Chief Police Officers who said it supported a "simplification of the tools and powers available to frontline practitioners".

Ms May also promised yesterday to crack down on binge drinking, saying the liberalisation of licensing laws had failed to produce a 24-hour drinking "café culture". She said: "In its place we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related incidents and drink-fuelled crime and disorder."

The Home Secretary said a ban on selling alcohol at below cost prices was being considered, along with tougher penalties for serving under-age drinkers.

Unusual Asbos

Oldest Christopher Muat, from Liverpool, who aged 88 was ordered not to bang on any object, film his neighbours, turn up his TV to an unreasonable volume, shout, swear or make "sarcastic" remarks.

Persistent Caroline Cartwright, 49, of Tyne & Wear, avoided jail this year despite repeated breaches of an Asbo banning her from having noisy sex – neighbours described it as "murder" and "unnatural".

Most bestial Shepherd Jeremy Awdry, 60, lost the right to graze sheep in Bream, the Forest of Dean, after his flock were "used as a means of intimidating". "Sheep were found lying outside houses dead with their [people's] name written in red on them," said the prosecutor.

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of IT (Not-for-Profit sector) - East Sussex

£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...

Nursery Nurse

£25 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse needed in th...

Supply Teaching jobs in Thetford

£21588 - £31566 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

KS1 teachers needed in Peterborough

£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape