Just two ASBOs issued, despite 60,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour

Sydney Anderson has called for a more effective deterrent for offenders
Sydney Anderson has called for a more effective deterrent for offenders

There were nearly 60,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded in Northern Ireland during 2015/2016, yet last year only two ASBOs were handed out.

A DUP MLA has labelled Anti Social Behaviour Orders as “meaningless pieces of paper” and said a more effective deterrent is needed.

Figures from the Department of Justice show that between 2011 and 2015 only 56 ASBOs have been issued in Northern Ireland.

The statistics were revealed following questions tabled to the minister of justice by Upper Bann MLA Sydney Anderson.

Figures obtained by Mr Anderson show that 59,502 anti-social behaviour incidents were recorded during 2015/16, however last year alone only two ASBOs were handed out in Northern Ireland.

The Assembly member said: “These figures are totally unacceptable and something needs to be done to have a more effective deterrent.

“In my own constituency of Upper Bann, anti-social behaviour is a serious problem which causes a lot of undue stress and worry to people living in the community.

“PSNI figures from October 2015 to September 2016 show that there have been over 4,300 incidents of anti-social behaviour in Upper Bann alone.”

He added: “The figures are huge and truly shocking. There are areas in Northern Ireland which live in fear over the attitudes and actions of those who want to cause harm within their own communities.

“It only goes to prove that despite ASBOs being issued, they do not go far enough to curb this activity.

“They are treated as nothing but a badge of honour by those who receive them. Behind the statistics are tired and frustrated residents in our communities who want a more effective approach to tackling anti-social behaviour.”

Mr Anderson continued: “In response to one of my written questions relating to this issue the minister herself stated that she has asked her officials to, ‘scope out, in association with relevant stakeholders, how a holistic review of anti-social behaviour can be taken forward’.

“I would welcome that, because many want to see action on combating this issue, not just meaningless pieces of paper handed out to those who cause fear and annoyance in our communities.”

Last year, 24-year-old Crumlin man Stephen Brown was jailed after breaking an Anti Social Behaviour Order by repeatedly making non-emergency calls to 999 and pretending to be pop star Nicky Minaj.

How are ASBOs handed out?

Applications for ASBOs can be made by the PSNI, councils and the Housing Executive to a magistrates’ court.

The civil orders can be used to stop anyone aged 10 or over from harassing, causing alarm or distress to other people who are not part of their household.

An ASBO, which can be issued for a minimum of two years, lists what the person in receipt of an ASBO must stop doing. They can be told not to go to certain places or to stay away from named persons.

If they break the terms they can be fined, receive a community sentence, or may even face up to five years in prison.