Harassing residents or vandalising the neighbourhood can cause misery and blight whole communities. It can also result in an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) for the offender. An ASBO severely curtails a young person’s activities: it may ban them from doing things with their gang or even going out after dark. If they break the terms, they risk a criminal conviction. However, before they get to that stage, there’s a lot they and their parents can do to avoid trouble.
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The Crown Prosecution Service defines ASB as “behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.” It includes jeering or swearing at people in the street; going round in an intimidating group; making excessive noise; drinking or smoking while underage; daubing graffiti; begging; and stealing cars. The obvious way for youths to avoid an ASBO is not to get involved in that sort of behaviour in the first place. Parents should look out for signs of trouble and try to stop it in its tracks.
Acceptable behaviour contracts and parenting contracts
ABCs are agreements between youths, parents, police and the local council’s Youth Offending Team (YOT). ABCs last up to six months, and breaching them can lead to criminal charges. The young person promises to stay out of trouble and attend regular counselling sessions. ABCs often work alongside parenting contracts, where parents must agree to accept counselling and ensure their child attends school and keeps to a curfew.
Youth crime prevention programmes
The police, YOT, social workers, teachers or parents can refer offenders to local crime prevention programmes. Programmes may include skill training, outdoor activities, mentoring, and advice on school, jobs and getting help for health or mental health problems.
Other measures include a visit from the police; a parenting order from the court, and fixed-penalty fines of between £30 and £500, depending on age and the type of offence. Youths aged 18-21 may get a police caution, as well as fines, community service or compulsory skill training.
ASBOs are civil preventive measures, which aim to keep a young person away from crime by banning them from particular activities or places. The court must deem the ASBO necessary, proportionate and in the public interest. The offence must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, so the offender may escape an ASBO if able to justify the behaviour in any way. Orders last at least two years, but good behaviour can earn variation or early discharge, for example to get a job or go to college.
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- CPS: Anti-Social Behaviour
- Law and Parents: Questionnaire: Could Your Child Get an ASBO?
- Law and Parents: Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs)
- Gov.UK: What Happens to Me if My Child Gets in Trouble with the Police
- Law and Parents: Understanding Parenting Contracts
- Gov.UK: Youth Crime Prevention Programmes
- Courtroom Advice: Getting an Anti Social Behaviour Order
- CPS: Anti-Social Behaviour Orders on Conviction