Courts crackdown on troublemakers

MORE troublemakers across Suffolk are being banned by the courts than ever before with the number of Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) issued during 2004 soaring by more than 500%.

By Danielle Nuttall

MORE troublemakers across Suffolk are being banned by the courts than ever before with the number of Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) issued during 2004 soaring by more than 500%.

A total of 75 ASBOs and Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (CRASBOs) were handed out in Suffolk in 2004 - 17 more than the number issued during the five years between April 1999 and June last year.

The largest proportion were issued in Ipswich with 26 imposed, closely followed by the Suffolk Coastal area which issued 22 ASBOs and 16 Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs).


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ABCs are voluntary agreements between a subject and a council to curb nuisance behaviour whereas ASBOs are legally enforced civil orders and CRASBOs are issued on the back of a conviction.

Prosecutors say ASBOs can be a useful weapon in targeting nuisance behaviour, but warn an increasing number are being breached by youths.

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Suffolk's Chief Prosecutor Chris Yule said: "We are increasingly seeing Anti-Social Behaviour Orders as part of the armoury of orders to deal with anti-social crime and they are broadly a very effective tool.

"We have noticed an increase in the number of breaches of ASBOs among young people, particularly those who get caught up in the culture that exists on some of the housing estates in Ipswich.

"The police and the courts are committed to ensuring that the terms of ASBOs are followed and we will take steps to enforce them vigorously. These are not an easy option and repeated breaches have already led some people into prison sentences."

Figures for West Suffolk show a total of 11 ASBOs were issued during 2004 - three in the Forest Heath area, three in Mid-Suffolk with the remainder in Bury St Edmunds.

In the Waveney district, 11 ASBOs and one CRASBO were imposed while in Babergh one ASBO and three CRASBOs were enforced.

Andy Solomon, anti social behaviour network manager for Ipswich, said the number of ASBOs issued in the town during 2004 had greatly increased.

He added: "There is of course much debate locally and nationally. Some have been effective, some have not and some have been breached.

"If someone is made the subject of an ASBO it's important to put into place some other work with that person so there is help and support for the victim and the offender themselves.

"They are more effective if something can be put in place with other agencies but it's one of a number of tools to deal with petty crime and anti social behaviour. Used in the right way they can be effective."

Guy Richardson, community safety officer for Suffolk Coastal District Council, said it had not received any further complaints for about 85% of the people issued with ASBOs.

"It's a problem solving tool which is beneficial. Really it depends on the severity of the complaint," he said.

"Our policy really is to problem solve first rather than go for enforcement. We have a sort of time out period and we keep a log to keep an eye on it."

Applications for ASBOs can be made to magistrates by a police force, local authority, housing action trust or registered social landlord.

They are designed to tackle low level crime that blights communities and can be issued to protect the public from behaviour that causes harassment, alarm and distress, where criminal proceedings are not seen as appropriate.

Many are granted against troublesome youths, who under the order face bans from certain locations or curfews. Each order is tailored to the circumstances of the individual, and an increasing number are being imposed against adults.

Anyone breaking an ASBO faces up to five years in jail.

Rachel Tucker, ASBO officer for Waveney District Council, said the area had established its own anti-social behaviour networking group, which meets monthly.

Here, troublemakers can be referred early on in their behaviour.

"It's all about early intervention. We are trying to get in at the early stages before the ASBO stage," she added.

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