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Explanatory Memorandum to Anti-social Behaviour (Northern Ireland) Order 2004

Background and Policy Objectives

In England and Wales the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced the concept of Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs).  This Act (as originally enacted) provided that a relevant authority in England and Wales, that is a local authority or the police, could apply by complaint to a magistrates’ court for an order (an ASBO) which prohibited a person from doing anything described in that order.   An ASBO lasts for two years generally and can be imposed on anyone aged 10 or over.  The penalties for breach of the order on summary conviction are 6 months or a fine of the statutory maximum or both, or on indictment 5 years or an unlimited fine or both.

These provisions were expanded by the Police Reform Act 2002 to, amongst other things, give criminal courts the power to issue an ASBO on conviction of a criminal offence.  Most recently the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 added further amendments to the provisions.

When the 1998 Act was being prepared, consideration was given to extending the provisions relating to anti-social behaviour orders to Northern Ireland.  However, in Northern Ireland there was no direct equivalent to the local authorities in England and Wales, which have not only a representative function, but which are also responsible for education, housing and social services.  It was therefore decided to monitor the development of ASBOs in England and Wales and consider the Northern Ireland position in light of experience gained.

In April 2002 the then Secretary of State published a consultation paper on community safety in Northern Ireland which used recorded crime data, research findings on victimisation and fear of crime, and involved consultation with key people working in community safety to identify specific issues which needed to be addressed.  These included street violence, low level neighbourhood disorder and anti-social behaviour.  The community safety strategy published in March 2003 identified that the legislation in England and Wales on anti-social behaviour needed to be examined to see if it was appropriate for Northern Ireland and suggested that initiatives might include anti-social behaviour orders.  The Government has concluded that such measures are needed.

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