Belfast Telegraph

Almost a third of Asbos broken

Almost a third of anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) in Northern Ireland have been broken.

Between 2005 and 2009 there were 122 Asbos granted, but 30% were not complied with, the Department of Justice confirmed.

An Asbo is a civil order made against a person who has engaged in behaviour like vandalism or drinking and is often used against young people. It can be broken by returning to a prohibited area or renewed nuisance behaviour.

The department is reviewing the use of Asbos. Campaigners are concerned the measures criminalise young people.

The consultation, Building Safer, Shared and Confident Communities, sets out proposals for a new community safety strategy for Northern Ireland, including going beyond preventing crime and anti-social behaviour to tackling the root causes that can lead to offending, like poor health, education, inequality and social disadvantage.

Asbos were introduced in Northern Ireland in 2004. They are civil orders granted by a court to protect members of the public from anti-social behaviour. They last for at least two years and can ban the individual from repeating the offending behaviour or entering a certain area.

A 2008 Criminal Justice Inspectorate report found they were a useful tool, generally as a last resort.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said: "From 2005 to 2009 122 Asbos were issued. 30% have been breached. This information is subject to change because it is based on information provided by the relevant authorities."

Last July, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a review of powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in England and Wales but that did not extend to Northern Ireland. Today's consultation is intended to consider proposals suited to the needs of local communities as well as the powers available.

Commissioner for Children and Young People Patricia Lewsley has said she utterly condemned anti-social behaviour but added Asbos are not the way to resolve the problem.

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