Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Civil Injunctions

Anti-social behaviour orders, commonly known as ASBOs, were court orders prohibiting someone from behaving in a certain way, such as engaging in intimidating or threatening actions and words, or doing certain things. It was not a punishment for a criminal offence.

Do ASBOs still exist?

No, ASBOs were replaced by new court orders under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Now, the courts can make civil injunctions and Community Protection Notices (CPN) – but they serve a similar purpose. The powers under the 2014 Act are intended to be quicker and easier to enforce than the old ASBOs, and aim to stop antisocial behaviour in its tracks before it escalates.

Importantly, they are also to help and support those working with the individuals concerned to address any underlying causes of their behaviour. That could be anger management, substance or alcohol misuse, for instance.

What are civil injunctions and Community Protection Notices?

The court can impose a civil injunction or CPN for persistent antisocial behaviour. An application for an injunction or CPN can be made by a number of authorities, including the police, the local authority and the environment agency as a result of anti-social behaviour. A civil injunction or CPN can be imposed for conduct including:

  • Drunken or threatening behaviour
  • Vandalism and graffiti
  • Playing loud music at
  • Threatening, intimidating or disruptive actions, for instance, to prevent racing on the roads

Civil injunction

A civil injunction may only be imposed if the individual is at least 10 years old, and a CPN if the individual is at least 16 years old. However, before making an injunction the court must be satisfied that it is more likely than not the relevant individual has engaged in, or threatens to engage in, conduct capable of causing nuisance and annoyance. The court must then consider it just and convenient to grant the injunction to prevent them from engaging in anti-social behaviour.

Community Protection Notice

Before making a CPN, the court must be satisfied that the individual’s conduct or behaviour is unreasonable, and is having a detrimental effect of a persistent or continuing nature on the quality of life of the locals. The terms of a CPN can be such that the individual is ordered to do, or to refrain from doing certain things.

What are the effects of such orders or injunctions?

This depends on the anti-social behaviour complained of and, therefore, the terms of the order or notice. You could be ordered to:

  • stay away from a particular place, like a central location in your town or city
  • stay away from certain individuals or groups of people
  • repair damage caused to property
  • go to a support group to improve your behaviour

How long does a civil injunction or CPN last?

The duration of an injunction can be up to 12 months and will depend on the age of the individual.

In the case of CPNs, there is no maximum length of time it can last if you are an adult. It will be up to the court how long it deems appropriate in individual cases.

If I breach an injunction or CPN, what will happen?

A civil injunction may include a power of arrest, particularly where there has been violence or there is a threat of violence, or a significant risk of harm to others. If the injunction is breached, the individual risks being arrested, charged with offences (including contempt of court) and imprisoned for up to two years and/or an unlimited fine (or up to three months’ detention order if under 18).

In the case of breaching the terms of a CPN, you could be fined between £100 and £2,500.

What other powers are there under the 2014 Act?

The police have additional powers under the Act, including dispersal powers by which the police can instantly send people away from a public place if they are causing antisocial behaviour. They also the power to remove items.

Under the Act, local authorities can make a public spaces protection order. This means they can deal with a particular problem that is detrimental to the local community, such as restricting alcohol consumption.

Both the police and local authorities have ‘closure powers’ under which they can close premises where anti-social behaviour is being, or is likely to be committed if they are not closed.