Tackling ASB – what the police can do

Woman being arrested in CambridgeThe police and other local agencies have a variety of different powers available to tackle anti-social behaviour. In this section, we explain what these are and how they work.

Many cases of anti-social behaviour can be resolved without the need for legal action. The most common methods are usually a warning letter and an interview with the perpetrator.

The Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 has come into force, you can see the full details here Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014: Reform of anti-social behaviour powers'

  • Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC)

    If there is evidence that someone is causing problems for the community, the police and the local authority can ask the person to sign an Acceptable Behaviour Contract. An ABC is a voluntary written agreement, meaning it is not recorded on a criminal record. It lists a number of things that someone agrees not to do anymore

    ABCs can be given to anyone, regardless of how old they are. They are signed by the perpetrator and the police or the local authority. If the contract involves someone under 18, their parent or guardian will also sign it.

    ABCs usually last for six months and the person will be monitored by the organisation who also signed the contract to ensure the agreement is not broken. If someone does break their agreement, other measures can be taken, including applying for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).

  • Penalty notices

    Police can issue one-off fines (penalty notices) to people behaving in an anti-social manner. Fixed penalty notices (FPNs) are generally used to deal with environmental offences such as litter, graffiti, noise and dog fouling. For children under 16 years old, this results in on-the-spot fines of £50. For those 16 and over it results in an £80 fine.

    Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) are issued for more serious offences, such as throwing fireworks, being drunk and disorderly, petty stealing or damaging property. They can be issued to anyone over 16 years old. Penalty notices are not the same as criminal convictions, but failure to pay the fine can result in higher fines or imprisonment. By using penalty notices, police can spend more time out in their community.

  • ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order)

    An ASBO can be given to anyone over the age of ten. ASBOs are court orders that can stop an offender going to a certain area or doing certain things. There are a number of organisations that can apply for one, including the police, local authorities, registered social landlords and the British Transport Police.

    ASBOs last for at least two years and are reviewed on a regular basis. This means if someone’s behaviour shows improvement then certain conditions of the ASBO may be removed or changed.

    A person with an ASBO does not get a criminal record unless a court finds them guilty of breaking the order. Breaking the terms of an ASBO is a criminal offence and the person can be arrested. If a court finds the person guilty of breaking the terms of their ASBO, the person can be fined, given a community sentence or sent to prison for up to five years.

  • A Designated Public Places Order (DPPO)

    A DPPO or Drinking Banning Order (DBO) can be applied to a specific location if there are persistent ASB problems caused by people drinking in public. This gives the police powers to confiscate alcohol from those over 18, if it is suspected that the consumption of alcohol is causing or may lead to ASB. Refusal to comply can lead to arrest and / or a fine of up to £500.

    DPPOs cannot be used for problems caused by under 18s drinking in public. The police already have powers to confiscate alcohol from underage drinkers.

  • Dispersal order

    If an area is identified as having a particularly persistent problem with anti-social behaviour then the police can grant a Dispersal Order. This gives police officers and PCSOs the power to direct groups or individuals to leave the area and not return for up to 24 hours. Refusal to leave a dispersal area is an offence and that person can be arrested. This power is aimed at preventing anti-social behaviour, not at disrupting the lives of law abiding citizens; therefore it is unlikely that you will be affected if the police feel you are unlikely to cause trouble.

  • Closure notices

    Police premises closed sign

    Police can shut down licensed premises causing a noise nuisance or rowdy behaviour or houses where people deal in and take class A drugs. Closures can last for up to six months.

  • Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order (CrASBO)

    A CrASBO can be given by the courts to someone who has been convicted of a criminal offence. The CrASBO is made in addition to a sentence or a conditional discharge. Like an ASBO, a CrASBO imposes conditions on the person, for example stopping them from going to certain areas. Breaching a CrASBO is a criminal offence.

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