Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Fourth Report


6 Anti-Social Behaviour

Background

103. In September of 2003, the Home Office undertook a one-day count of anti-social behaviour to obtain a snapshot of reported anti-social behaviour in the UK. Over a single 24-hour period, 66,000 reports of anti-social behaviour were made to participating organisations - police service, fire service and local authorities - in England and Wales.[151] That was equivalent to approximately 13.5 million reports of anti-social behaviour per year - or one report every two seconds - at a cost to the agencies involved of roughly £13, 500 per day or £3.375 billion per year.[152]

104. In its written evidence, Dyfed-Powys police force estimated that in terms of officer hours, time spent dealing with anti-social behaviour amounted to 22% of total incident-related activity.[153] The problem of anti-social behaviour was highlighted by Malcolm King, Chairman of the North Wales police authority and representing the Police Authorities of Wales, who argued that anything up to 70% of a police officers time could be spent dealing with anti-social behaviour and related incidents.[154]

105. In both local and national surveys, anti-social behaviour and quality of life issues were consistently rated highest in terms of cause of concern to people. Anti-social behaviour was also one of the key factors in perpetuating fear of crime within the UK.[155]

Government Strategy: Legislating for Anti-Social Behaviour

Legislation

106. The Government has embarked on an extensive programme of legislation in order to tackle anti-social behaviour. Since the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, it had concentrated on legislation that enabled the police and local authorities to have a wider, more flexible range of powers to meet their existing responsibilities and respond to the needs of their local communities.[156] That new legislation - which is set out in Table 1 below - provides for a greater number of methods available to the police for dealing with anti-social behaviour, set out in Table 2.

Table 1: Government Legislation on Anti-Social Behaviour

Crime and Disorder Act 1998:

The Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) was first introduced under this Act.

Section 5 of the Act placed on local authorities and police a joint responsibility for the formulation of crime and disorder reduction strategies and put a legal obligation upon police authorities, probation committees and health authorities to co-operate fully in this work.

The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001:

Fixed Penalty Notices were first introduced under this Act.

The Police Reform Act 2002:

This Act provided powers to accredit non-police employees involved with the provision of community safety with powers to undertake certain functions to support the police. police community safety officers (PCSOs) and Accredited Warden Schemes were created as part of this Act.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003:

This Act was designed to ensure the police have the appropriate powers to deal with anti-social behaviour. It introduced new powers for tackling the problem of premises used for drug dealing and for dispersing intimidating groups. It allows the police to deal with the nuisance caused by young people with air weapons and has banned the possession of imitation firearms and air guns in public without good reason.

It has provided powers for local authorities and their partners to deal with anti-social behaviour in local communities and a means for schools, local authorities and youth offending teams to work with the parents of children who are behaving anti-socially, also creating the mechanisms for enforcing this work.

The Act extends local authorities' powers in relation to cleaning land, including extending the measures that can be taken to remove graffiti, and restricting the sale of aerosol paint to children.

Further provisions to tackle anti-social behaviour were made under the Licensing Act 2003 and Fireworks Regulations 2004.

Source: North Wales police[157]

Table 2: Key Powers in Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour.
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) (Crime and Disorder Act 1998). These may be applied for, either in isolation ('stand-alone') in Magistrates Courts as a civil proceeding, in County Courts during related proceedings, or in Magistrates Courts in conjunction with convictions for other offences ('Fast-Track ASBOs', or 'Criminal ASBOs/CRASBOs')

  • Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs). Voluntary contracts which are drawn up between the individual involved in ASB, parents/guardians, police officers dealing with the case, members of the local Youth Offending Team (YOT) and other agencies involved in dealing with such behaviour, e.g. local authority/ registered social landlords, schools and health services.

  • Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) (Sections 1-11 Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001)

  • Power to enforce restrictions against anti-social public drinking, following designation of an area by senior police officers in agreement with the LA for that purpose. (Sections 12-16 Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001)

  • Power to escort young people under sixteen years to their homes after 21:00 hours, if they are seen acting in an anti-social manner in a public place where ASB is a recognized problem, and if they are not accompanied by an adult. (Section 30: Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003)

  • Power of closure of premises where drugs are being used ('Crack Houses'). (Sections 1-11: Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003)

  • Power to arrest individuals carrying air weapons or imitation firearms in a public place. (Section 37: Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003)

  • Power of seizure of vehicles driven in an anti-social manner (Section 59: Police Reform Act 2002)

  • Increased powers to disperse 'rave' gatherings and remove trespassers (Sections 57 & 58 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003)

Source: Dyfed-Powys [158]

107. In January 2003, the Government established the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit within the Home Office to co-ordinate Government efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour. In March 2003, it published 'Respect and Responsibility - Taking A Stand against Anti-Social Behaviour',[159] which outlined the main steps undertaken by the Government. Those steps included increasing the number of police officers, introducing community support officers and wardens, creating Community Safety Partnerships and putting in place Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Fixed Penalty Notices to address anti-social behaviour. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 also gave new powers to the police, local authorities and other agencies, including social services, environmental health officers, schools and businesses in order to tackle anti-social behaviour.[160] The most high profile of all of those initiatives was the introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).
ASBOs are civil orders that exist to protect the public from behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. An order contains conditions prohibiting the offender from specific anti-social acts or entering defined areas and is effective for a minimum of two years.[161]


108. In October 2003 the Home Office published "Together: Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour"[162] and launched the TOGETHER campaign to improve performance on tackling anti-social behaviour across England and Wales.[163] The policies included new monies to every area of England and Wales - £11 million in 2003/04 and in 2004/05, split across all Crime and Disorder Reduction and Community Safety Partnerships to strengthen their response to anti-social behaviour; a new assessment for all police forces on their response to the problem, backed with programmes of training; 'Anti-Social Behaviour prosecutors' - a new national team in the Crown Prosecution Service that specialises in the prosecution of anti-social behaviour offences and sentencing guidelines for magistrates on anti-social behaviour offences.[164]

109. Home Office officials told us that the Government's response to anti-social behaviour could be summed up as a 'twin-track' approach that both provided help and support to individuals and communities in dealing with anti-social behaviour; and provided a full range of powers to ensure acceptable standards of behaviour were upheld.[165]

110. The legislation was welcomed by the Chief Constables in Wales. Chief Constable Barbara Wilding of South Wales police told us that the new legislation, and in particular the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, was to be commended for allowing interventions at an early stage.[166] Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom of North Wales police, also welcomed the fact that the Government have given the police and local authorities the necessary tools required to tackle anti-social behaviour.[167]

111. While acknowledging that there was still much to be done in the fight against anti-social behaviour, Malcolm King, of the Police Authorities of Wales, argued that "the tide has turned. […] I think we are beginning to win it".[168] The Chief Constable of North Wales police argued that the Government had effectively called for a cultural change, both amongst the police and law enforcement agencies, in their attitudes towards anti-social behaviour. He further argued that it signified an increase in the responsibility of communities to become more willing to take a stand against anti-social behaviour.[169]

112. Some of our witnesses , however, expressed caution in terms of the speed with which the new legislation had been introduced. In his written evidence Chief Constable Terence Grange of Dyfed-Powys police stated:

"A concentration of new measures available to police forces and Partnerships in dealing with the problem have been introduced in a relatively short space of time, rendering it difficult for them to be assimilated within Force Policy and Practice".[170]

113. Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom also appealed to the Government to allow a period of time for the new legislation to bed in, stating that "belief, organisation, commitment (and) ownership" amongst participating agencies and authorities was now necessary for success, rather than further legislation in the area of anti-social behaviour.[171]

114. We welcome the Government's initiatives to tackle anti-social behaviour. In particular, we welcome the new legislation which provides the police, local authorities and other statutory agencies with new powers and methods to respond to anti-social behaviour. We agree with the police in Wales that a period of consolidation is now necessary and we look to the Government to ensure that they are given sufficient time to master their new powers.

Definition of Anti-Social Behaviour

115. Whilst our witnesses broadly welcomed the Government's drive to tackle anti-social behaviour, several of them raised concerns about the lack of a clear definition of anti-social behaviour. As the Chief Constable of South Wales police noted in her written evidence, "there is currently no national definition of what constitutes anti-social behaviour and no national measurement framework that compares policing performance".[172]

116. Whilst the legal term for anti-social behaviour is not strictly defined, the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 describes the conditions that must be met to permit action against offenders. The central condition is to demonstrate that:

"a relevant person acted in a manner that caused, or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more people who are not of the same household as the relevant person".[173]

The Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys police told us that the definition in the 1998 Act had been generally adopted by police forces and Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) throughout Wales and England, as the working definition of anti-social behaviour.[174]

117. The Government White Paper Respect & Responsibility - Taking a Stand against Anti-Social Behaviour (12th March 2003) expanded on the definition in the 1998 Act, and provided the following guidance:

"Anti-social behaviour means different things to different people - noisy neighbours who ruin the lives of those around them, 'crack houses' run by drug dealers, drunken 'yobs' taking over town centres, people begging by cash-points, abandoned cars, litter and graffiti, young people using airguns to threaten and intimidate, or people using fireworks as weapons". [175]

118. In its written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee's inquiry into anti-social behaviour, the Crime and Society Foundation argued that in practice the definition of anti-social behaviour lacked clarity and was "based on a subjective judgement about impact rather than an objective definition of any particular acts".[176]

119. Louise Casey, the Director of the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit at the Home Office, explained that initially, the Government was keen to provide the practical tools to enable the police and other authorities to tackle anti-social behaviour, rather than engage in a lengthy academic exercise to define what constituted anti-social behaviour.[177] However, since the legislation was now in force, the Home Office's Anti-Social Behaviour Unit was now focusing on refining the definitions of anti-social behaviour.[178]

120. Hazel Blears MP, Minister of State for Crime Reduction, Policing, Community Safety and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office, acknowledged the subjective approach to defining anti-social behaviour. She argued that a victim based definition - although innovative and controversial - was appropriate given that anti-social behaviour meant "different things to different people".[179] However, whilst she emphasised the need for a victim based definition, she also stated that the Government was now defining "a set of behaviours that we then want to use an anti-social behaviour order to prevent happening, which is a civil order rather than a criminal prosecution".[180]

121. The Chief Constable of South Wales police argued that there was a need for a national definition of what constituted anti-social behaviour. She believed that this would promote a better understanding amongst partner agencies of each partner's responsibilities and the role that each could play in combating such behaviour.[181] We saw successful examples of this multi agency approach, based on a common definition of anti-social behaviour in the Belgian town of Dendermonde and the city of Ghent. [182]

122. In a similar vein, the Chief Constable of North Wales police emphasised the need for a shared understanding between the partner agencies, communities and North Wales police about the definition of anti-social behaviour in a specific area, and the role that each agency would play in tackling it.[183] He also believed that it was necessary to recognise the importance of local people's involvement in deciding what aspects of behaviour were causing them the most difficulties. He asserted that "negotiation with communities as to how to prioritise and address local issues must become the norm".[184]

123. Whilst several witnesses expressed the need for clarification around a definition of anti-social behaviour, they also noted that the task was fraught with difficulties. In his written evidence, Chief Constable Terence Grange of Dyfed-Powys police stated that:

"This widespread usage of what is essentially a non-specific description reflects the inherent difficulties which prevent the formulation of a comprehensive and consistent definition of what constitutes ASB, and also reflects the subjective nature of the way in which the problem is perceived by individual members of the public, depending upon their age, circumstances and disposition". [185]

124. Kevin Wong, Assistant Director of Nacro Cymru, argued that using anti-social behaviour as a "catch all" term without clearly defined behaviours, only served to increase the fear of crime.[186]

"It [anti-social behaviour] may be something that people can more easily understand, but it therefore fuels that sense of concern about crime because you are lumping so many things together. If the Government is trying to make sure that agencies have an impact on anti-social behaviour, they should break it down and say what those things are so that it is reducing the number of young people causing annoyance and it is reducing the amount of drug-dealing on the streets and reducing the level of graffiti, because those are tangible things you can lock on to". [187]

125. However, Malcolm King, Chairman of the North Wales police authority and representing the Police Authorities of Wales, told us that while he acknowledged the huge difficulties in defining anti-social behaviour he believed that a clear definition was essential because, at present, there was "a huge variation in definition, both with the public and within the police forces, and that makes a difference as to how we deploy resources".[188]

126. We acknowledge the difficulties that the Government has faced in defining anti-social behaviour. However, we conclude that further clarity on what constitutes anti-social behaviour is an essential requirement for the police and Community Safety Partnerships to devise and deliver successful strategies to tackle anti-social behaviour. Whilst we welcome the emphasis that the Government has placed on the victim in any definition, we recommend that it gives urgent thought to a clear workable definition under which the police forces and their partners can operate. We further recommend that the Government in its development of a definition for anti-social behaviour ensures that there is sufficient scope for local input and flexibility.

Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour: The Welsh Approach

127. The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) identified the success of local authorities, the police and the courts, in tackling anti-social behaviour in Wales and argued that, for the most part, ASBOs in Wales had been greeted warmly by the public, particularly by those communities who have suffered the consequences of anti-social behaviour.[189] However, it argued that ASBOs should be regarded as a measure of last resort and suggested that greater emphasis needed to be placed on early intervention to tackle the issues which could lead to anti-social behaviour.[190] That approach has been developed by the four police forces, and their partners, in Wales.

128. South Wales police formally launched their "Anti-Social Behaviour Framework - a Partnership Approach" - in June 2004.[191] The Framework is a four stage approach which is based on early interventions, with an ASBO only being issued at the fourth stage and as a measure of last resort.[192]
South Wales police Anti-Social Behaviour Framework: a Partnership Approach

Step one involves a warning letter being sent requiring the person to stop the behaviour. If the problem persists, step two would include a follow-up letter and a home visit by members of the partnership and a police officer. This visit would aim to identify and address any aggravating problems, such as difficulties within the family or at school, which might underlie the behaviour. If a third referral is received and the individual has not engaged with the process a case conference is called drawing together all the agencies and the individual to try to find a way forward. This would result either in an Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) being drawn up or an application for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). (The ABC is a contract that identifies the behaviour that is required to be addressed and how this will be achieved. It is a formal document that is signed by the parties involved. Whilst it is not legally binding it provides additional evidence should there be a need to apply for an ASBO).

Source: South Wales police[193]

129. Figures for Cardiff Basic Command Unit (BCU) area have demonstrated the effectiveness of early intervention: between January 2003 and January 2005, 729 first warning letters were issued; 167 second warning letters were issued; 56 individuals were involved in third warning meetings with a Chief Inspector, of which 32 signed Acceptable Behaviour Contracts; and 20 ASBOs were ultimately issued. [194]Assistant Chief Constable Francis of South Wales police cited another example of the Swansea BCU area, he said:

"3,000 stage-one letters were issued, 500 stage-two letters and visits, 43 stage-three visits and 75 acceptable behaviour contracts. You see the drop off from the 3,000, the early intervention, the confronting the young people, meeting with their parents, explaining the impact and explaining consequences, we would feel that taking that approach, the preventative early intervention approach, is very important indeed, and the 69 (ASBOs), you could strongly argue, is a reflection of success in taking that proactive approach at an early stage".[195]

130. Similar examples of this approach have been introduced throughout Wales and we saw it at first hand during our visits to Wrexham and Rhyl West.[196] Ian Miller, Joint Chairman of Denbighshire Community Safety Partnership stated that in the North Wales force area:

"We prefer not to go for an ASBO as our first response. We would prefer to avoid it if at all possible and use the ASBO very much as the last line of defence". [197]

131. The North Wales police force had also adopted an innovative strategy in tackling anti-social behaviour called Dyna Ddigon (That's Enough!). The campaign combines a philosophy of community policing with best practice from the tactics of a zero tolerance engagement.[198] It was launched in three pilot sites in North Wales in July 2003, and as of August 2004, has been operational in twenty one sites in the North Wales police force area.[199] Dyna Ddigon combines appropriate and innovative methods, and creative use of new powers, for example, the Yellow Card scheme,[200] with a multi-agency and co-operative approach to action, and is subject to continuous and rigorous monitoring.[201]

132. Our witnesses highlighted many advantages of using the ASBO as a measure of last resort. Keri Lewis, Chairman of Bridgend Community Safety Partnership, told us that early interventions helped to identify problems, build relationships, and help divert people - especially young people - from continuing on "a slippery slope towards crime".[202] He believed that: "the sustainability of turning around potential ASBO candidates is greater by the long-term interventions than it is simply by virtue of the actual order itself".[203]

133. Mike Tonge, Chief Constable of Gwent police agreed. He argued that early intervention schemes were crucial, as "any criminologist or expert researching the field will say your long-term opportunities to right that person's behaviour or do something with them is much improved by going down the non-criminal, intervention route".[204]

134. A further benefit of using ASBOs as a last resort was highlighted by Bryan Heard, acting Inspector, during our visit to Swansea.[205] He argued that having relatively low numbers of ASBOs prevented them from becoming 'a badge of honour', and that too many ASBOs had the potential to render them meaningless. He also argued that lower numbers of ASBOs were easier to monitor and supervise, which enabled the police and local authorities to retain firm control of the worst offenders. [206]

135. At the outset of our inquiry, there were some concerns that the apparent low numbers of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders in Wales in comparison with certain areas of England represented a failure in Wales to use effectively the new Orders. That perception was highlighted by Sue Hall, the Chair of the South Wales Criminal Justice Board, who noted the fact that "a bit of a postcode lottery" was developing around ASBOs. [207] In particular, she argued that the evidence was clear that "in some parts of the country they are used much more frequently than in other parts of the country".[208]

136. Our inquiry, however, has demonstrated that this was not the case in Wales. Both in oral evidence and on our visits to the Welsh force areas, we have been impressed by the commitment and drive evident in tackling anti-social behaviour in Wales. Moreover, we are convinced that the lower number of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders is the result of a successful staged early intervention approach adopted by the forces in Wales, rather than a general reluctance to use them. It should be noted that success in Wales has been acknowledged by HMI who considered, South Wales police's Anti-Social Behaviour Framework as being National Best Practice. [209]

137. We welcome the models of best practice devised by the police forces in Wales to tackle anti-social behaviour. We agree that ASBOs should be issued as a last resort and welcome the Welsh forces' proportionate and appropriate approach to anti-social behaviour. We further recommend that mechanisms be put in place to ensure that best practices of the Welsh police forces are shared across Wales.

138. We further recommend that the Government consider the approach taken by Wales in addressing anti-social behaviour and, where appropriate, disseminate that best practice across England and Wales.

Measurement of Anti-Social Behaviour

139. One of the main concerns expressed to us with regard to the lack of a definition of anti-social behaviour was the subsequent difficulties that arose in measuring and comparing performance in tackling anti-social behaviour. It was a point that was acknowledged by the Home Office in its Report: "Defining and Measuring Anti-Social Behaviour",[210] which stated that "by describing the consequences of behaviour rather than defining the behaviour itself, the definition lacks specificity and measurability".[211]

140. In her written evidence to the Committee, Chief Constable Barbara Wilding stated that:

"A clear definition would enable a performance monitoring regime to be introduced that would allow for meaningful comparisons to be made. Unfortunately, the current lack of a nationally agreed definition means that alternative measures are sought. The worst example is the use of the anti-social behaviour order as an indicator of success".[212]

141. That concern was not alleviated by our evidence from the Home Office. Louise Casey, Director of the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit at the Home Office told the Committee "I actually think the growth in the number of ASBOs is incredibly heartening".[213] While Hazel Blears MP was at pains to point out that tackling anti-social behaviour was not merely a numbers game, she did not offer any alternative means of measuring success in tackling anti-social behaviour. [214]

142. The Home Office currently uses two ways of measuring anti-social behaviour. The first is the Home Office Public Service Agreement No.2, which is based on public perceptions of anti-social behaviour, and has been developed using data from the British Crime Survey (BCS).[215] Using this measure, the proportion of people estimated to perceive a high level of anti-social behaviour in their local area fell from 21% to 16 % between 2002/03 and 2003/04.[216]

143. The second measure is based on seven indicators of anti-social behaviour as measured in the BCS. These include abandoned and burnt-out cars, noisy neighbours or loud parties, people being drunk and rowdy in public places, people using or dealing drugs, teenagers hanging around on the streets, rubbish or litter lying around, vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property. Between 2002/03 to 2003/04, as well as the overall fall in perception, all of the seven individual anti-social behaviour measures showed a decline.[217]

144. Nacro Cymru argued that the use of perceptions did not give a fully accurate assessment. It argued that while perceptions reflected people's reaction to a problem, it did not indicate whether or not the problem itself had increased or decreased. Furthermore, the level of use of ASBOs may well influence that perception without any knowledge of the actual level of anti-social behaviour.[218]

145. Therefore, the lack of an appropriate indicator for the measurement of anti-social behaviour almost inevitably resulted in ASBO numbers being used as a crude proxy measure. That was inappropriate for Wales as all Welsh Forces emphasised the ASBO as a last resort. Keri Lewis, Chairman of Bridgend Community Safety Partnership, confirmed that position when he told us that success in tackling anti-social behaviour was "far from being just a matter of mathematics".[219] This is a real problem with practical significance. Malcolm King, Chairman of the North Wales police authority and representing the Police Authorities of Wales, told us that "the Home Office have said that these sorts of unspecified incidents can absorb up to 70 per cent of police time, and that is in an unmeasured way".[220]

146. Whilst we acknowledge that the number of ASBOs testifies to the success of legislation in the sense that it is being used, we are concerned that in the absence of any other measure, the number of ASBOs issued will be considered a proxy measure of success. Such a measurement would discriminate against Welsh police forces who have implemented successful strategies that have not needed high numbers of ASBOs. We look to the Government to promote a clear message that the number of ASBOs should not, on its own, be regarded as a measure of success of anti-social behaviour strategy, but should be considered alongside other measures for tackling anti-social behaviour.

The breach of ASBOs: criminal sanctions for non-criminal behaviour?

147. In her evidence to us, Hazel Blears MP confirmed that, an Anti-Social Behaviour Order was a civil order rather than a criminal prosecution.[221] Nevertheless, those found in breach of an Order face the possibility of a custodial prison sentence. We received differing views on the desirability of a custodial sentence for a breach of an ASBO. Chief Constable Terence Grange acknowledged the necessity of sanctions but remained unconvinced that sending individuals to prison for breaching an ASBO was the correct solution:[222]

"It worries me that you can be frankly a complete pain in the neck and a bureaucratic device is used to control you and then you become incarcerated because you do not comply with it. People should go to prison for crimes and I think they should only go to prison for crimes. Prison is the appropriate place for them to be. There are other ways of dealing with anti-social behaviour and there are other ways of managing people".[223]

148. However, that was not the view of the other Chief Constables in Wales. Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom argued that "If people do not behave, they are told, "Your behaviour is not acceptable. If you do not stop, in a nutshell, you will go to prison" and that is what is intended to happen and that is why we have prisons, to send criminals there".[224]

149. Chief Constable Barbara Wilding of South Wales police stated that she did not disagree with an individual appearing before a civil tribunal, being made subject to an order and then failing that order, going to prison: "It has happened for yonks-people who are debtors and all sorts - from a civil action, absolutely: because if they have got to that point with our process, I am absolutely confident that, had we been able to intervene and deflect them into a better way of life, it gives them absolutely every opportunity".[225]

150. The multi-stage approach taken to anti-social behaviour in Wales, means that an ASBO is only issued as a last resort. Therefore, the individual is presented with several opportunities to right his or her behaviour. While it may appear unfortunate that a custodial sentence can be given for a breach of an ASBO, we conclude that, in Wales, it is an appropriate punishment.

Magistrates and the Judiciary

151. Despite the relatively low level of ASBOs in Wales, several witnesses noted an unwillingness among magistrates in Wales to grant the Orders. Chief Constable Grange told us that be believed there was "a marked unwillingness in Powys to use [ASBOs], with youth offending teams dubious about them and the magistracy unwilling".[226] That experience was echoed by Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom who averred that there was a "reluctance in the Court Service at every level I think to engage in this".[227] He believed that it was the responsibility of the Department for Constitutional Affairs to provide better guidance on how the process was intended to work in court.[228]

152. Louise Casey, Director of the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit explained that her Unit worked closely with the Department for Constitutional Affairs and that the Department was responding to the need to make sure that magistrates' courts were more effective in this area and that when people come before them, that they followed sentencing guidelines. She argued that together with the Department for Constitutional Affairs the Unit provided "specialist help and specialist ways of making sure that the courts work more effectively".[229] That assistance extended to sentencing guidelines for ASBOs.[230]

153. Progress has been made in Wales in this area, and Sue Hall told us that in South Wales, there was closer working between the Community Safety Partnerships and the local authorities. The appointment of an anti-social behaviour prosecutor in South Wales, and the creation of the South Wales ASBO Legal Group had helped to ensure that consistent standards of legal advice are offered across their seven CSPs.[231]

154. We welcome the developments in South Wales to bring together all the agencies involved in the application for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and the creation of the ASBO Legal Group. We recommend that similar groups be established throughout Wales, and that a national forum be established to allow for the dissemination of best practice across Wales.

155. The Welsh forces have developed effective policies to combat anti-social behaviour in Wales, which include the use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders as a sanction of last resort. Therefore, it would be unfortunate should an Order not be granted in Wales for lack of guidance. We recommend that the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit redouble its efforts with the Department for Constitutional Affairs to provide guidance and training to raise awareness of the new legislation amongst magistrates and the judiciary.


151   Ev 310 Back

152   Ev 248 Back

153   Ev 192 Back

154   Q311 Back

155   Q701 Back

156   Ev 226 Back

157   Ev 227 Back

158   Ev 172 Back

159   Cm 5778. For further information see www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs2/asb_Respect_and_Responsibility.pdf Back

160   See Table 2. Back

161   www.crimereduction.gov.uk/asbos9.pdf Back

162   www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs2/ASB_Action_Plan.pdf Back

163   Further information on the Together campaign can be found at www.together.gov.uk/home.asp Back

164   www.together.gov.uk/home.asp Back

165   Ev 310 Back

166   Q114 Back

167   Q395 Back

168   Q310 Back

169   Ev 227 Back

170   Ev 173 Back

171   Q395 Back

172   Ev 298 Back

173   Ev 226 Back

174   Ev 171 Back

175   Ev 226 Back

176   Written Evidence from the Home Affairs Committee: Anti-Social Behaviour: Session 2004-05: HC 80-11, Ev 30. Back

177   Q269 Back

178   Q269 Back

179   Q699 Back

180   Q699 Back

181   Ev 301 Back

182   An outline programme for the visit can be found at Annex D. Back

183   Ev 263 Back

184   Ev 264 Back

185   Ev 172 Back

186   Q 609 Back

187   Q609 Back

188   Q311 Back

189   Ev 248 Back

190   Ev 248 Back

191   Ev 299 Back

192   Ev 299 Back

193   Ev 299 Back

194   Ev 248 Back

195   Q108 Back

196   An outline programme for the visit can be found at Annex B. Back

197   Q588 Back

198   Ev 225 Back

199   Ev 236 Back

200   Ev 251 Back

201   Ev 234 Back

202   Q460 Back

203   Q460 Back

204   Q237 Back

205   An outline programme for the visit can be found at Annex C. Back

206   An outline programme for the visit can be found at Annex C. Back

207   Q547 Back

208   Q547 Back

209   Q108  Back

210   Home Office Development and Practice Report 26, available at www.together.gov.uk Back

211   Home Office Development and Practice Report 26, available at www.together.gov.uk Back

212   Ev 301 Back

213   Q256 Back

214   Q699 Back

215   Q268 and Ev 309 Back

216   Ev 309 Back

217   Dodd, T. et al (2004) Home Office statistical bulletin 10/04, Ev 309. Back

218   Q608 Back

219   Q460 Back

220   Q311 Back

221   Q699 Back

222   Q40 Back

223   Q37 Back

224   Q200 Back

225   Q120 Back

226   Q31 Back

227   Q175 Back

228   Q178 Back

229   Q257 Back

230   Q260 Back

231   Q539 Back


 
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