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Last Updated: Monday, 15 January 2007, 01:58 GMT
Violent offender 'Asbos' planned
John Reid
John Reid is considering the measures
The government is planning "behaviour orders" for people considered to be at risk of committing a violent crime.

The orders, similar in principle to Asbos, would put curfews or other restrictions on potential offenders, who might have no criminal convictions.

The orders have already been criticised by civil liberties groups.

Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer says the orders will not be an infringement on individual freedoms because there must be evidence before they are issued.

He told BBC News: "If there's evidence that you could commit a violent offence in the future, proper evidence of that proved in a court, then why shouldn't you be restrained from committing that violent offence.

"We are willing to do it relation to Anti-social Behaviour Orders, why not in relation to other sorts of offences as well."

As with Asbos, the standard of proof needed to issue the orders will be much lower than a criminal conviction requires.

This sounds like another incredibly broad power, with more legislation - another quick fix undermining natural justice and not making us any safer
Shami Chakrabarti
Liberty

The Sunday Times reported that "risk factors" that could lead to a person being subject to an order would include a person's upbringing, "cognitive deficiencies", "entrenched pro-criminal or antisocial attitudes", or "a history of substance abuse or mental health issues".

The paper said that the orders could stop potential offenders associating with certain people, make them notify police of changes of address, and possibly live in a designated hostel.

Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, told BBC News the new proposal was unacceptable.

"There's nothing wrong with the notion that if we feel there are individuals who pose a danger to others in society that we should take reasonable steps to help them, and support them and in some cases to detain them.

"It's a very different thing for a judge sitting in a court, hearing evidence from individuals saying, well we believe this person might do something and therefore we'd like to place an order on them, which if they breach... they'll end up in prison, potentially for up to five years."

Crime bosses

Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights campaign group Liberty, said: "Haven't we seen enough already with Asbos and control orders?

"This sounds like another incredibly broad power, with more legislation - another quick fix undermining natural justice and not making us any safer."

Home Secretary John Reid is also expected to announce new measures against crime bosses as part of the new Serious and Organised Crime Bill on Wednesday.

The "serious crime prevention orders" will allow serious offenders to be banned from travelling abroad and could even stop them using mobile phones and associating with accomplices.

Mr Reid told the News of the World: "These ruthless criminals prey on innocent people and will stop at nothing to create a life of luxury for themselves while destroying the lives of hard-working people.

"The government is determined to stamp out the menace of serious crime and protect the country from the misery it causes in our communities.

"These tough new measures will give our law enforcers powerful new tools to prevent and detect serious crime, ensuring that criminals can't benefit from it."


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