The Government considers anti-social behaviour which causes harassment or intimidates neighbours, or a community in general, to be unacceptable. The Government therefore included
the anti-social behaviour order among the measures introduced under its Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
The anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) is an important addition to the range of measures the police and local authorities have to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Magistrates� courts have had powers to make anti-social behaviour orders since 1 April 1999.
Local authorities and Chief Officers of Police in consultation with one another are able to apply to a magistrates� court for an Order to protect the community from the actions
of an individual or individuals who cause harassment, alarm or distress to others not in the same household as themselves.
Proceedings to apply for an Order are civil, not criminal, and the case needs to be proved according to the rules of civil evidence. If an Order is made the defendant will
be prohibited from doing anything specified in it. The Order itself will not give the defendant a criminal record.
A breach of an Order is a criminal offence. The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the Order has been breached. Where a person is convicted for a breach the
courts can impose stiff penalties of up to five years� imprisonment.
A strategy for the use of the Orders will be developed as part of the local crime and disorder strategies for each area. The duty which the local authority and the police
share to draw up such a strategy is another measure introduced by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998
ASBOs should be used wherever it is thought that they will be a successful remedy to anti-social behaviour, and where other methods may be less effective. This does
not necessarily mean that other methods have to be tried first. In other words, ASBOs are not, as some have suggested, a measure of last resort.
Proposals to update the procedures for gaining anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) were announced by the Home Office in on 31 January 2002 and were presented to Parliament on
12 March 2002 as amendments to the Police Reform Bill. The proposals include: