Stevenage MP slams ASBOs
Stevenage’s MP has slammed ASBOs as “not working” as a major government review gets underway.
The orders have been used across Comet Country to help combat crime, including an ASBO for a Stevenage youth who falsely collected hundreds of pounds claiming the money would help keep a youth club open.
As part of his order he was banned from soliciting charity donations from members of the public for two years.
Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, said: “I think a number of young people are now considering ASBOs to be a badge of honour.
“It’s definitely not working. I think they need to be prosecuted rather than just given an ASBO.
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“Our priority is to punish people who are anti-social – effective punishment rather than a reward.”
The orders were first introduced by Tony Blair’s government in 1998 to help combat anti social behaviour such as persistent public drunkenness, criminal damage offences and loitering.
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Home Office figures state that 230 ASBOs were issued in Hertfordshire from 1999-2008 with 122 of these breached at least once between 2000-2008.
In comparison the same statistics state that 156 orders were issued in Bedfordshire with 67 of those breached.
Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin, said: “We shall see what replaces them; I think they weren’t widely used in my experience.
“They were obviously cumbersome for the police and authorities to implement.
“It depends what replaces them - if it’s something that’s more effective and less cumbersome and doesn’t criminalize people unnecessarily.”
As well as tackling youth crime the orders have also been issued to older members of the community who have caused a persistent problem.
A 63-year-old from Hitchin was issued an ASBO which banned him from organising or participating in an illegal rave.
The order was issued after he attended a rave on National Trust-owned property.
Hertfordshire Police declined to comment on the government review and referred The Comet to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
Assistant Chief Constable Simon Edens, The ACPO anti-social lead, said: “The police service recognises that all individuals and communities have a right to live their lives free from intimidation and harassment.
“One of the core purposes of policing is to keep people safe, and this includes dealing effectively with anti-social behaviour.
“ACPO has been working with the Home Office and others on how we best support forces to deal with anti-social behaviour. We have given our professional view that any approach must recognise the harm that anti-social behaviour causes.
“We have been clear that we will support a simplification of the tools and powers available to frontline practitioners, making it easier for them to do what works best.”
The government review was launched by Theresa May, Home Secretary, last week in a recent speech she said it was “time to move beyond” the ASBO.
What do you think? Have ASBOs been effective? Have you had first hand experience of an ASBO working or otherwise? Send your comments to: Newsdesk, The Comet, Bank House, Primett Road, Stevenage SG1 3EE, email email@example.com or comment below.