Reforming the “tool kit” of remedies for anti-social behaviour

24 September 2013

Wales has a history of using Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) as a last resort in contrast to the approach taken in England. The policy context for tackling anti-social behaviour – particularly youth annoyance in Wales has been proactive, informed by rights and entitlements; a distinct approach from that taken in England which has tended to be more risk-orientated – focused on minimising risk, diversion and containment.

The UK Government’s Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 9 May 2013. It is currently at Committee stage.

One of the UK Government’s policy objectives for the Bill is to create new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour – to simplify and streamline the approach. The Bill makes provisions for condensing the current 19 orders to 6 new orders to deal with anti-social behaviour and provides victims with the ability to ensure action is taken.

The Bill is the culmination of a long process of discussion and consultation by the UK Government. Table 1 below provides a summary of the rationalisation of anti-social behaviour tools proposed in the Bill:Eng

Currently, there are a large number of “tools” to deal with anti-social behaviour through more than ten Acts of Parliament. Some of these tools, such as ASBOs, are fairly broad powers to impose restrictions on anti-social behaviour perpetrators. Others were designed to deal with very specific problems. This is particularly true of the tools brought in to deal with environmental anti-social behaviours, such as litter or graffiti. Some of the anti-social behaviour remedies apply to individuals and some – such as dispersal orders or gating orders – apply to areas where there have been problems.

The National Assembly’s Communities, Equalities and Local Government Committee asked the Minister for Local Government and Government Business, Lesley Griffiths AM, about the implications of this Bill on the Welsh Government’s policy agenda and decision making in regards to anti-social behaviour, specifically the work that has been done, working in partnership with the police, to steer children and young people away from activity which causes harassment or distress on 10 July 2013.

On Tuesday 24 September 2013, Assembly Members debate the provisions in the Bill in plenary, alongside three other proposed changes in the Bill, relating to the recovery of possession of dwelling houses, capital finance controls and dangerous dogs.

Article written by Sarah Hatherley