Mayor: Asbo replacement similar but a new name

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HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond has welcomed plans to replace Asbos with a new court order – but questioned the reasons behind it.

The Government is consulting on plans to replace anti-social behaviour orders with a crime prevention injunction (CPI) which can be applied for by the police, local authority or a registered social landlord.

Mayor Drummond said: “I think the big political movement is to get rid of the title of Asbos because that was something that Labour brought in and replace it with something very similar, but with a different name.”

Since the introduction of Asbos, which aim to deal with persistent minor offenders, , 81 Asbos and Crasbos (criminal anti-social behaviour orders) have been granted in Hartlepool. Of that 23 are still current, of which only two are for juveniles.

An Asbo imposes restrictions such as banning people from a local area or preventing them from swearing in public.

It is a civil order. But a breach is a criminal offence and offenders can face up to five years in jail if they do not keep to the order.

The system looks set to change in a bid to “de-criminalise” young people.

A breach of a CPI by an under 18 would not be classed as a crime, so they would not get a criminal record.

Instead they would receive an alternative sanction such as a supervision order.

CPIs could also include a requirement for offenders to attend behaviour courses.

An adult breach of a CPI would be punished as contempt of court through a fine or prison sentence, so that would lead to a criminal record.

The Government has launched a consultation that aims to streamline powers to make sanctions more readily available and it also makes clear that orders do not have to be a “last resort” option.

Mayor Drummond discussed the move as part of his community safety and housing portfolio.

He said: “As long as it does not hamper the council, or the police’s efforts to clamp down on anti-social behaviour, then I am quite relaxed about it.

“We will have to wait and see how it develops.”

Council officers stressed that current legislation is still in force and they would still apply for Asbos until the new powers come in.

Other changes could see police community support officers given powers to issue direction to leave powers, which give the power to order an individual away from a particular place for 24 hours.

A range of lower level community protection orders could also be brought in.

Council chiefs are currently liaising with the Safer Hartlepool Partnership before submitting an official response.

To take part in the consultation, which runs until May 4, log on to www.homeoffice.gov.uk/asb-consultation.