‘Strip yobs of iPods’ as Asbos axed

OFFENDERS could be stripped of prized possessions such as iPods under proposals to give police stronger powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, it has been announced.

Government proposals to revamp current anti-social behavioural regulations will see the existing Anti Social Behavioural Orders (Asbos) scrapped as part of a “radical streamlining” of the whole system.

Asbos will be replaced with Criminal Behavioural Orders and Crime Prevention Orders as part of an attempt by the coalition Government to reduce bureaucracy and increase the perceived seriousness of actions such as vandalism and graffiti to class them more as crime.

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New powers handed to authorities could see offenders’ passports seized, individuals banned from certain activities or places and see social housing residents evicted if they flout orders.

Police could also be forced to investigate incidents that attract more than five complaints, or more than three complaints from one individual, under so-called “Community Trigger” proposals.

The raft of proposals form part of a Government consultation on the matter.

In the consultation document, the Home Office said it was working with the Ministry of Justice on proposals “to increase the use of asset seizure as a sanction for criminal offences.

“For example, to explore whether there are particular types of offender for whom seizing assets might be effective and proportionate.”

Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said: “For too long anti-social behaviour has wreaked havoc in our communities and ruined decent people’s lives.

“It is time for a new approach that better supports victims and makes it easier for the authorities to take fast, effective action.”

The orders will also need a lower level of proof than the criminal orders and Mr Brokenshire denied the consultation was merely a rebranding of Asbos.

Mr Brokenshire also suggested that offenders could be banned from taking holidays abroad as an incentive to comply with any court orders.

The Asbo was launched under the last Labour government while Tony Blair was still in power but the measure attracted criticism in some quarters for the perception that it is seen as a badge of honour among offenders.

Figures showed there were more than 6,500 incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded by police in England and Wales every day in December.

Last September, a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said only one in four incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported and communities were “becoming used to things we should not have become used to”.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Edens, anti-social behaviour lead for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said any new approach “must recognise the harm that anti-social behaviour causes”.

However, crime reduction charity Nacro said enforcement on its own will not work. Graham Beech, its strategic development director, said: “It is not necessarily the measures which sound tough and make the news headlines, like confiscating iPods, that will make the real difference.

“We need a sophisticated response, which acknowledges the complexity of the problem we’re dealing with.

Shadow home office Minister Vernon Coaker said the Coalition’s austerity programme would mean reduced police officer numbers and that any new measures to tackle yob- like behaviour would be ineffective without officers to enforce them.