Suffolk: Almost half the Asbos handed out in Suffolk over 12-year period have been breached

Asbo's aren't working, says minister

Asbo's aren't working, says minister - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

Nearly half of the 320 anti-social behaviour orders issued in Suffolk over a 12-year period have been breached, according to Government figures.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker cited the percentage of breaches nationally - almost 60% - as proof that Asbos are essentially futile.

Between April 1, 1999, and December 31, 2012, 156 (48.8%) orders were flouted in Suffolk.

Ministry of Justice figures show 118 of these were violated more than once. On average each of the breached orders were broken 4.6 times.

When Asbos were first implemented 14 years ago they were the focal point of a much-heralded crackdown on louts by Tony Blair’s Labour government.

However, over the years the civil orders have been accused of not being fit for purpose.

Currently, the Government is looking at bringing a raft of new measures to ensure the anti-social behaviour is robustly tackled.

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Mr Baker said: “These figures are further proof of why we need to replace this broken system.

“The breach rate is up again, with nearly 58% of all Asbos issued (nationally) since June 2000 breached at least once. What is more, for young people the breach rate is a staggering 68%. Asbos simply do not work.

“Victims have told us what they want - they want anti-social behaviour to stop and for it not to happen again.

“Our new powers will give the police, councils and courts a faster and more effective way of addressing problems before they escalate.”

Almost a third (102) of the Suffolk Asbos have been meted out to those aged between 10 and 17.

The highest ratio of breaches was in the age group 12-14 where 65% broke their conditions.

Malcolm Richardson, deputy chairman of the Magistrates Association, said: “We are aware of the fact that in half the cases it would appear Asbos had worked and achieved prevention in the behaviour which was causing grief to other people.

“Clearly that is not a good enough percentage because it means the other half are not achieving that objective.

“We obviously share the frustration the Government has about the amount of breaches.

“It is clearly a difficult problem to address. There are some people, particularly among the younger age group, who would say it is almost a badge of achievement, which is clearly not a good thing.

“Regarding the issue of youths and offending, and youths and other dysfunctional parts of their lives, there is a lot of evidence that shows how much association there is between these type of things.

“It’s a particularly difficult issue with youngsters. Just slamming an Asbo on a youth without there being a more holistic approach to the behaviour of a young person who does not have the boundaries or discipline the rest of us might have - and would find compliance with such an order difficult - can become a bit of a vicious circle.”

Over the last few years Suffolk police have continually stated communities around the county have told them combating yobbish behaviour is their number one concern.