Page last updated at 14:53 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 15:53 UK

Level of breached Asbos increases

A youth drinking
Asbos are imposed on people found guilty of anti-social behaviour

The proportion of people who have breached their Asbos in England and Wales has gone up.

However, the overall number of the orders issued for anti-social behaviour offences has fallen.

Between 2000 and 2006, 49% of Asbos were breached, compared with 47% in the years to 2005.

Some 4,123 Asbos were issued in 2005 and 2,706 in 2006. The Home Office said the fall could be down to the wider use of "early intervention" procedures.

For youngsters aged 10 to 17 the breach rate is higher than average, at 61%.

Carried out by local authorities, police and magistrates, early interventions include acceptable behaviour contracts, parenting orders and individual support orders.

All these measures aim to encourage better behaviour.

But the BBC's home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said one reason Asbos were becoming less popular with authorities may be that nearly half of them are breached.

Jacqui Smith announces the new 'Action Squad'

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the real reason the government was "giving up on Asbos" was due the "appalling breach rate".

He added: "Yet the government's answer is to replace them with acceptable behaviour contracts.

"National Audit Office figures show these are breached by almost two-thirds of under-18 year olds. The government is repeating the same failed strategy under a new name."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the government was starting to realise there were better ways of solving the problem of anti-social behaviour.

"I think what ministers are finally recognising... is that actually early intervention, acceptable behaviour contracts, even warning letters are more effective at nipping things in the bud, rather than going in with the heavy hand of the anti-social behaviour order which should be used as a last resort."

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has urged police to "turn the tables" on repeat offenders if they continue to misbehave and intimidate others in their communities.

This could include repeated home visits to offenders and checks to identify cases of benefit fraud or non-payment of council and road tax.

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