UK Dopers: Explain the point of an ASBO

I’ve read about this in various articles coming out of the UK. Most recently, about this mini-chav whose year-plus-long spree of asshattery finally, after more than 60 offenses, earned him an antisocial behaviour order which essentially states:

Now, maybe I’m missing some fundamental purpose of the ASBO here, but it seems to me that this is basically saying: “You are hereby banned from doing that which the law says you shouldn’t have been doing in the first place. Bad! Bad chav! Naughty!” In other words, it is an officious way of slapping his nose with a rolled-up newspaper and reminding him that the crap he was pulling is illegal and they really, really mean it this time.

Is an ASBO really just kind of a warning? I mean, it seems to me this kid was quite a little shit for more than a year before even this much was done to stop him – and this doesn’t even seem to be anything more than a stern talking-to. It does threaten him with up to 5 years in prison if he breaks the ASBO, but isn’t that what the laws are there for in the first place?

As you suspect, the case for ASBOs is hardly watertight.

Their strength is that they effectively criminalize behavior that is not illegal. An ASBO is a civil sanction, but breach may result in a criminal penalty.

Loitering, anoying the neighbours (loud music, etc.) and generally ‘being a jerk’ could potentially result in jail. For this reason the orders are opposed by many lawyers and civil libertarian groups - here’s what Liberty has to say.

I tend to agree with this. Asbos are a poor substititute for more zealous enforcement of existing laws and greater funding for the police.

I resent ASBOs on civil liberties grounds, yet they do seem to have been fairly effective.

On the other hand, section 59 seizures, section 172 notices… don’t get me started on how disgusting these are :mad:

Oh, sorry, didn’t answer your question.

Yes, your impression of an ASBO is pretty much right.

I don’t actually know if we have ASBOs in Scotland mind. But people here are much more civilised, with a small exception called Lanarkshire.

I had to google this: you’re talking about the Road Traffic Act right?

What’s so nasty about s172? Seems pretty reasonable to me… :confused:

Okay, so it allows authorities to more or less criminalize being a serial asshat. Not a bad idea on paper, actually, as long as it is consistently enforced. From what I understand though its application is all over the map, so it sounds like there are some pretty big kinks to work out.

What gets me though is that, for example, in the case of the chav in the linked piece, much of what he has been engaged in is illegal – at least, it is everywhere that I know of. It sounds mostly like vandalism/destruction of private property, but it also sounds like quite a lot of it. Aren’t repeated vandalism offenses punishable by stricter means, even to a minor?

"Recently, he stole lead from the roof of the school… "

What is this, the middle ages? Who steals lead from roof tops anymore? And why? It surely can’t be worth enough a pound to fence.

ASBOs are totally strange on many aspects.

You have an ASBO set against you with virtually no right of appeal - it isn’t a judicial process and depends upon what the local police had for lunch that day.

‘Evidence’ can be a collective opinion by several residents against an individual, or group of individuals.

An ASBO is used as a cheap form of enforcement, but there already exists a perfcetly adequate system of dealing with minor miscreants, the courts can issue an injunction - but of course that has proper judicial oversight - which is inconvenient as it needs evidence, and appeals process.

They came about because there is a pattern of behaviour which the law does not seem to wish to address formally, sometimes its because individuals are under the age of responsibility, other times because witnesses are too scared to come forward.
Things like being arsehole neighbours, revving unsilenced bikes, hanging around street corners looking menacing, that sort of thing.

These things can be applied even without proper evidence, for example if you happened to own a car that others in your family also used, and that person was speeding, you would be required to idnetify the person driving at the time of the speeding offence.
You might genuinely not know which of your family was driving at the time, and the police might well make a threat to put an ASBO on the car.

How can a car be actively anti-social ? People can be anti-social but inanimate object cannot, its a pretty ridiculous interpretation of the powers given under the ASBO law.

Here is the official position on ASBOs

However its got plenty of critics, here is quite a long essay which does go into ASBOs and the way they have been sold to a gullible public by politicians trying to use the ‘Law and Order’ ticket, without actually committing to spending money dealing with the problems, or employing more law enforcers, or build enough prisons - inother words, its largely cheap rhetoric.

Here is a list of ASBO cases.

There is one there that forbids a named woman from possessing drugs, which is absolutely stupid order, because there is already a law against illegal drugs anyway, and how can you ban someone for possessing legal drugs such as prescriptions?

When you actually look at many of these ASBOs, you will see that injunctions would serve the purpose perfectly well, but injunctions don’t sound as sexy in the current UK political climate.

It seems pretty dumb to ban a beggar from begging, removing that persons method of support, because they are then going to either break the ASBO, or they will simply commit a more serious crime - they have nothing to lose.

Sorry for the hijack, but:
Are you saying crime is a beggar’s only other means of support? Is attaining a job impossible? When I lived in a town that catered to beggars, they were only there in afternoon, evening, late night hours, never in the morning, and never during inclement weather. Obviously they have somewhere to stay, possibly claim as residence. Either way, folks here don’t mind paying certain workers under the table, I’m sure it’s no different there.

Lots of people are stealing lead off roofs at the moment. And not just lead. Anything made of metal is fair game. This includes manhole covers, park railings, children’s slides, copper cables and copper pipes. It’s all down to the high price of scrap metal.

Before I read the article I thought we were talking about a high school or college aged guy, but he’s twelve. Where the hell are his parents?

If a person has been reduced to begging, then what have they got to lose by ignoring an ASBO? If they get caught and imprisoned then all you do is fill up our prisons which are already full of more serious offenders.

Instead of slapping an ASBO on such an individual, it would be far wiser to find out WHY they are begging.

The chances are that they are mentally ill, or homeless, but whatever the reasons it is far less costly to society to address the problems, instead of lock them in prison at huge expense, for such a trivial offence.

In the UK, a large percentage of beggars are homeless, and often mentally ill - but the provision of services for them have been cut back over the years as health cash goes on to less mundane things, stuff that wins votes like more oncologists - but the spedning pie is only a certain size, so something has to give.

Plenty of other homeless have left home because of abuse, and once on the street its extremely difficult to get off without assistance.

If you are homeless you are not going to be able to gain regular employment, or access many services from the state.

Whilst there are anecdotal stories about beggars actually making rather a lot of money, such stories seem to turn up in our trash newspapers, particualarly the right wing ones, but never provide any names or real evidence of this - its just one of those urban myths.

If you are begging on the street, you don’t have much in the way of alternatives, and ASBO will do nothing whatsoever to deal with that issue.

Never heard of an ASBO. Is this a UK thing, or European? I am in Texas, we try to enforce existing law and ordinances to curb such behaviour.

I can certainly see how the language of the ASBO lends itself well to ridiculously broad interpretation. I mean, an antisocial car? KITT and Herbie would be unimpressed. I think that if it is to be retained as a means to do an end run around existing laws it will need to be a lot more specific in its wording, particularly with regards to the criteria that defines repeated antisocial behaviour. It also shouldn’t be used in lieu of enforcing existing laws; if someone is going to commit petty crimes repeatedly they should be punished with those laws, not grouped in with other miscellaneous (but legal) asshattery and given a smack on the bum. That’s rather insulting to the victims. Break windows? Slash tires? Arrest the blaggard, make him pay for damages. Excessive, repeated harassment, racial epithets, and general annoyance? That’s a good candidate for an ASBO.

The question of what the little blighter’s parents have been doing about this is a good one, though.

The ASBO seems to be a pretty recent turn of events. From what I can tell it was introduced in 2004 to a great deal of controversy and some mixed results. It probably could end up being a useful tool for criminalizing extreme civil disobedience, but as it stands right now it needs a lot of trimming and nailing down.

And Greenock. You forgot Greenock.

As you suspect, the ASBO is a cover for lazy policing and idiotic judicial policies. The little piece of shit should have been locked in a borstal years ago. ASBO’s are for when your neighbour’s leilandii are too tall, not as a substitute for the court system.

Incidentally, Little Lever is down the road from me.

It removes the right to avoid self-incrimination by the accused.

The little fucker’s only twelve, so I don’t see borstal as being an option “years ago”. What on earth have social services been doing though - the lad’s parents are obviously incapable of raising him. For the long term good of the kid, he’d be better of with another family. Anyway, the ASBO system strikes me as a failed sop to the prejudices of the readers of our less thoughtful newspapers.

Is it pronounced like “ass-bow”?