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A Process and Impact Evaluation

What are anti-social behaviour orders? Anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) were introduced by section 1 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 in England and Wales and have been available since April 1999. The powers to impose ASBOs were strengthened and extended by the Police Reform Act 2002, which introduced orders made on conviction in criminal proceedings, orders in county court proceedings and interim orders. Orders can now also extend across any defined part of England and Wales. ASBOs are civil orders that exist to protect the public from behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. An order contains conditions prohibiting the offender from specific anti-social acts or entering defined areas and is effective for a minimum of two years. The orders are not criminal penalties and are not intended to punish the offender. An order should not be viewed as an option of last resort. Stand-alone applications for ASBOs are made to the magistrates’ court acting in its civil capacity. The order can be applied for during related proceedings in the county court; and requested (without the need for a formal application) if a defendant is convicted of an offence in the criminal courts. It remains a civil order irrespective of the issuing court. ASBOs are community-based orders that involve local people not only in the collection of evidence but also in helping to enforce breaches. By their nature they encourage local communities to become actively involved in reporting crime and disorder and contributing actively to building and protecting the community. The civil status of ASBOs has implications for the type of court proceedings at which applications are heard. The civil nature of the order means that hearsay and professional witness evidence can be heard. This is an extremely important feature of ASBOs because those subjected to the anti-social behaviour or those reporting the behaviour can be protected