The government has recently announced plans to replace the notorious ASBO with a new set of orders, the most prominent of which will be Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) and Crime Prevention Injunctions (CPIs).
Though thousands of column inches have been devoted to ASBOs, and at least one dog has been named after them, they are not as commonplace as might be assumed. The orders have been slow to be implemented, no doubt in part due to the high, criminal, standard of proof that must be met to obtain one. The hope is that the new orders, some of which require a lower standard of proof, may result in more widespread use.
ASBOs (breach of which is a criminal offence) have been criticised for effectively criminalising what would otherwise not be criminal behaviour, particularly given that a large proportion are imposed on juveniles. Though breach of a CBO would carry the same penalty as an ASBO, breach of a CPI would only be a criminal offence for adult offenders, who would be charged with contempt of court and liable to a maximum of two years in prison or a fine. Juveniles would instead be subject to a curfew or supervision order, except in extreme cases of repeated breaches.
The new orders are also intended to incorporate a “support” element to help deal with the offensive behaviour, such that, for example, the subject of the order may be required to take steps to combat their alcohol abuse.
While these changes will not satisfy those at either end of the criminal justice spectrum – for some they will remain unfair, for others too lenient – they do at least tackle some of the difficulties and perceived unfairness of the ASBO regime. How effective they will be remains to be seen.