The introduction of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) has proved to be an effective way of curbing anti-social behaviour, but has led to a number of challenges in the courts by those subject to an ASBO.
A Mr Lonergan from Lewes recently challenged his ASBO, which provided that during the night hours he was required to be resident at one of a number of specified addresses. In effect, it operated as a curfew. He raised two arguments against the order. Firstly, claimed Mr Lonergan, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (which created ASBOs) only allows ‘prohibitions’, not a positive requirement to be somewhere specific. Secondly, the curfew was, in effect, a penal sanction and was therefore incompatible with an order made under civil legislation.
The court refused to rescind or amend the terms of Mr Lonergan’s order. It considered that the purpose of the order was to prevent anti-social behaviour and to protect members of the public from it. As such, the presence of a curfew provision was acceptable. The court did agree, however, that the curfew element of the ASBO might last for a shorter period of time than the order as a whole and that if he made progress with his behaviour, Mr Lonergan could apply to vary it.
This case is mainly of importance because Mr Lonergan did not win. Had he done so, the ability of the authorities to apply for ASBOs that contain curfew clauses would have been effectively removed. Unless this case is successfully appealed, it looks as though one of the prime weapons available to control anti-social behaviour will continue with its present level of effectiveness.
More recently, an attempt to obtain an order banning an individual from engaging in any form of criminal behaviour was considered too general to be allowed.
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