Concern at Asbo breaches

OFFICIALS insisted last night anti-social behaviour orders are working in Suffolk despite new figures revealing nearly half of them have been breached.

OFFICIALS insisted last night anti-social behaviour orders are working in Suffolk despite new figures revealing nearly half of them have been breached.

There were 111 Asbos in place throughout Suffolk at the end of March, including 88 criminal Asbos and 23 civil Asbos - but a total of 51, or 46%, have had their conditions broken.

Last night, Ian Abery, Suffolk Coastal's anti-social behaviour officer, said despite the breaches, they were working.

He said: ''Asbos are being used to improve people's quality of life and if they were not there, then quality of life would suffer.


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''The number of breaches is higher than the national average and in Suffolk Coastal two out of three civil Asbos have been breached. But people have been punished for the breaches and this makes the community realise that the courts are serious about Asbos and a message has been sent out to people on the streets.

''Asbos are almost being used as a last resort. There will have been a multi-agency approach to solving problems with the person concerned, with social services, the youth offending team and others.''

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Mr Abery said that 90% of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) had been successful. These are a written contract which spell out what type of behaviour the recipient should stop. A breach of an ABC can lead to injunctions, Asbos or criminal prosecutions.

''This is the first step to alter someone's behaviour and stop that person getting into the criminal system and affecting the rest of their life,'' said Mr Abery.

Meanwhile, Sue Wigglesworth, chairman of Babergh District Council, said Asbos sent out a clear message that communities were no longer prepared to accept having their lives blighted by anti-social behaviour.

''They have certainly helped local authorities to take action if there is anti-social behaviour within the community, which in the past proved very difficult to do.

''They show that we are not prepared to tolerate this sort of behaviour any longer. Although it is alarming to hear 46% are being breached, I think we need to compare that with how many people re-offend when they come out of prison.

''Some people may breach the orders, but is that any different to somebody re-offending after a prison sentence? If breaches are committed I think it is important magistrates have the power to take the punishment onto the next level."

Nationally, the number of Asbos breached was 36% in 2003, rising to 42% last year.

Suffolk has the 14th highest number of Asbos issued compared to other counties. In Essex, there are 182, but no figures were available about the number of breaches.

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