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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
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
Latest stories from i100
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

Offshore Wind Package Manager

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: T...

Subsea Cables Installation Project Manager

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Subsea Cables Installation Project Manager

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Head of Offshore Operations & Interfaces

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices