Just Sociology

Controlling and Preventing Antisocial Behaviour: The Debate over ASBOs

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) are court orders that seek to control and reduce acts of anti-social behaviour (ASB) within communities. ASBOs have been utilized to address various types of bad behaviour, including shoplifting, public drunkenness, and playing loud music.

However, there have been arguments for and against the use of ASBOs in crime control. This academic article discusses the use of ASBOs for crime control, including subtopics on ASBOs for shoplifting, public drunkenness, playing loud country music, and riding a scooter on the pavement.

Additionally, it presents arguments for and against the use of ASBOs as a means of controlling and preventing ASB.

ASBO for Shoplifting

Consecutive thefts committed by Jade Underwood, known as a serial shoplifter, have resulted in the Criminal Anti-Social Behaviour Order (CRASBO) being used for the first time in the UK (Hansard Society, 2003). The CRASBO aims to regulate the behaviour of offenders who repeatedly commit minor offences (Barron & Lister, 2003).

Underwood’s ASBO mandated that she refrain from entering certain shops and places where she had previously shoplifted. The ASBO for shoplifting highlights the use of restrictions and bans placed on offenders to reduce their occurrence of anti-social behaviour.

By limiting Underwood’s access to certain stores, the authorities sought to decrease her ability to continue recommitting a crime. Furthermore, this type of ASBO was intended to reduce the likelihood of reoffending by placing minor restrictions that acted as a deterrent.

ASBO for Public Drunkenness and Abusive Behaviour

Geoffrey Russell Thomas received an ASBO in 2011 for threatening hospital staff while highly intoxicated (BBC News, 2011). The ASBO prevented him from entering local hospitals except in emergency situations.

The ban was viewed as critical in ensuring the safety and comfort of other patients and healthcare workers at the hospitals. The use of ASB legislation has been utilized in controlling abusive behaviour in public spaces through several control mechanisms such as banning, exclusion, and curfews.

This type of ASBO requires perpetrators to abstain from specific conduct in their everyday lives. In addition, this type of order acts as a deterrent for potential reoffenders as it prevents perpetrators from engaging in the same antisocial behavior in the same area of activity.

ASBO for Playing Loud Country Music

In 2011, Michael O’Rourke’s country music playing caused significant disturbance to neighbours who complained and pressed charges. O’Rourke was subjected to ‘Asbo’ in accordance with anti-social behaviour laws to limit the volume of his music or face severe consequences (BBC News, 2011).

This subtopic highlights how legislation provides control and regulation of behaviour through prohibited or restricted conduct specific to an activity. The

ASBO for Playing Loud Country Music is an example of a case related to an individual’s behaviour that creates a nuisance to his or her neighbours.

As ASBOs are influenced by different factors, the case exemplified how public complaints, behaviours that disturb others, and conflict may lead to the application of ASBOs.

ASBO for Riding a Scooter on the Pavement

Vicki Richardson received an ASBO in 2013 for her persistent use of her scooter on the pavement by Thomas Read, who complained to Hucknall Police Station about her behaviour. Richardson received a letter that banned her from driving her mobility scooter on the pavement to prevent possible accidents and to control her behaviour in public areas.


ASBO for Riding a Scooter on the Pavement highlights how legislation can be applied to prevent possible prosecutions or accidents. This is an example of legislation that is linked to public safety, where the behaviour of a single individual impairs the safety of others.

ASBOs are used as a preventive measure to protect the public from risking or harm caused by antisocial behaviour.

Arguments For ASBOs

ASBOs are perceived as a means of reducing crime rates that affect public safety. The use of ASBOs aims to reduce reoffending by changing the behaviour of an individual (Department of Justice, 2009).

ASBOs are standardised court rulings that have been used to curb anti-social behaviour, regardless of variable regional enforcement or perceived interpretations. ASBOs are seen as a proportionate response to certain types of offending.

Sentencing options for minor acts of antisocial behaviour are limited; therefore, ASBOs provide the necessary deterrents to prevent perpetrators from repeating their behaviour.

Arguments Against ASBOs

Critics argue that ASBOs are seen as dubious tactics that lack effectiveness in preventing future behavioural issues. The effectiveness of ASBOs is questionable given that the criminal justice system has not provided explicit details about the success or failure of ASBOs (Matthew, 2007).

Furthermore, such measures are subjective interpretations made by the criminal justice system or police, causing concern for their misuse, as well as disproportionate punishment. Conclusion:

In conclusion, the use of ASBOs to control anti-social behaviour has both support and opposition.

On one hand, ASBOs can be used as a preventative measure to control and manipulate behaviour, as exemplified in the case studies examined. On the other hand, arguments against ASBOs highlight concerns over effectiveness, potential misuse, and the disproportionate nature of their application.

However, it is clear that ASBOs have played a significant role in shaping criminal justice systems and provided a catalyst for effective debate on how to deal with antisocial behaviour in communities. In conclusion, ASBOs have been used to control and reduce acts of anti-social behaviour, but are also subject to criticism over their effectiveness and potential for misuse.

Nevertheless, ASBOs continue to be a relevant topic in criminal justice systems and public safety, and play a significant role in shaping policies for future prevention and regulation of antisocial behaviour.



What is an Anti-Social Behaviour Order? – An anti-social behaviour order is a court order designed to prevent anti-social behaviour.

2. Are ASBOs an effective way to prevent crime?

– There are conflicting views on the effectiveness of ASBOs, but they can serve as a deterrent for certain types of offending. 3.

What types of behaviours can ASBOs control? – ASBOs can be used to control a variety of behaviours, including shoplifting, public drunkenness, and noisy music playing.

4. How do ASBOs protect public safety?

– ASBOs can prevent possible accidents or harm caused by an individual’s antisocial behaviour in public areas. 5.

What are some criticisms of ASBOs? – Criticisms of ASBOs include their subjectivity, potential misuse, and disproportionate nature of punishment.

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