UK Family Law Reform

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Asbos soar by 85%, with Manchester at top of list

Alan Travis 4th November 2005

The number of antisocial behaviour orders imposed by the courts has begun to accelerate, with 897 issued in the first three months of this year - an 85% increase over the same period in 2004.

Home Office figures published yesterday show that the total number of Asbos imposed since they were introduced in April 1999 has now reached 5,557, with just under half involving teenagers under the age of 18.

The police, local authorities and social housing landlords can apply for an Asbo, a civil order, to be issued against teenage tearaways and noisy neighbours amongst others. They last for a minimum of two years and impose strict conditions on the offender such as banning them from spending time with a particular group of friends or visiting a specified area. A breach of the Asbo can be punished by a fine of up to £5,000 or up to five years in prison for an adult.

The figures published yesterday show that Manchester is the runaway winner of the title of "Asbo capital of Britain" with 816 issued since 1999. This compares with 560 in London, 408 in the West Midlands, and 405 in West Yorkshire. Wiltshire and Lincolnshire have used the orders least with only 21 Asbos each.

The Home Office minister Hazel Blears, whose Salford constituency has seen 114 Asbos imposed, said yesterday: "Asbos are an effective way of stopping the actions that make people's lives a misery when other attempts to stop the problems have failed."

She said the rising number of Asbos showed that there were still many people suffering at the hands of irresponsible and threatening individuals.

But the shadow home secretary, David Davis, claimed the expansion in the use of Asbos had been far slower than expected.

"The prime minister's Respect agenda is in crisis. He promised 5,000 Asbos a year but in fact it has taken six years to reach that number. We also know that half of the Asbos are being breached."

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