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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
Asbowatch VI: In the summertime
By Duncan Walker
BBC News

A shopping centre's decision to ban youths in hooded tops and baseball caps memorably won John Prescott's backing when he said they were "intimidating".

THE ASBOWATCH CHRONICLES
Novel Asbos

No sooner had the deputy PM signalled his approval of Bluewater's stance than Tony Blair announced "yobbish behaviour will not be tolerated any more" - signalling a ratcheting-up of the government's war on thugs.

Fans of real Asbos - as opposed to Bluewater's DIY version - will be heartened; critics, who fear their overzealous use, will be disappointed.

But there are no signs of a let-up in use of the civil orders, with innovative uses continuing to be found.

IN THE SUMMERTIME

Summer just won't be as much fun for one ageing Eastbourne resident - now that he has been ordered to cover up properly when sunbathing.

Man sunbathing
The dos and don'ts of sunbathing are not grasped by everyone

It was the complaints about his penchant for wearing nothing but a see-through, heart-shaped ladies' thong while enjoying the fine weather that did it.

According to the Eastbourne Herald the 60-year-old was spotted on the beach "in full view of passers-by". There was also one occasion in his front garden.

A five-year Asbo says he can't be seen parading naked in public anywhere in Sussex - except for nudist beaches.

UP ON THE ROOFTOPS

A highly regarded pirate DJ was brought down to earth - quite literally - by an Asbo aimed at curbing his rooftop broadcasts.

Cartoon of speakers in a window

Having admitted operating a pirate radio station and causing 10,000 worth of damage by erecting a radio transmitter, the garage music supremo was handed a three-year conditional discharge.

More significantly for his career, Tower Hamlets council persuaded magistrates to ban him from entering any building in the borough more than four storeys tall for five years.

Officials said pirate radio stations steal electricity, damage buildings and interfere with radio signals.

CRUMBS

After residents complained about the "fear and alarm" caused by seagulls and crows attracted to their street, a retired teacher from Fife was warned to stop putting out crumbs - or face an Asbo.

Flock of seagulls
Like a scene from 'The Birds', apparently

Not only were the birds noisy, but they were dirtying cars and gardens. There were rumours of attacks by gulls. One neighbour was so upset they said the situation was like something out of Alfred Hitchcock's horror film The Birds.

The woman, who has been told not to feed birds in her garden - or anywhere else in the town for that matter - said: "I can't believe they want to hold me responsible for every bird which chooses to do its business in our street."

AGE NO BARRIER

While hoodie-clad teens remain the public face of the Asbo, magistrates have shown they hold no such preconceptions.

A 74-year-old retired teacher became one of the oldest female owners of an order after upsetting neighbours with a 24-hour barrage of top-volume classical music.

They were also unimpressed at being denounced as "whores" and "child molesters" when they walked passed her home, in an otherwise peaceful Lancashire cul-de-sac.

The Asbo was apparently sought as a last resort when the pensioner, who believed there was a vendetta against her, refused help.

RHUBARB, RHUBARB, RHUBARB

A long-running family feud landed in the courts when an elderly sibling was wounded by flying rhubarb.

A 51-year-old woman, threw the much-maligned crumble filling at her big brother, 72, when he laughed at her. One of the sticks hit him in the eye.

After hearing that the incident was part of a long-running feud, Northallerton magistrates handed the woman an Asbo aimed at stemming her "erratic" behaviour.

The rhubarb attack itself was punished with a 40 hour community service order.

WAR AND PEACE

Veteran peace campaigner Lindis Percy was threatened with an Asbo after making a pest of herself at the US eavesdropping base, Menwith Hill, in North Yorkshire.

Menwith Hill listening post
Not until the cows come home

The 63-year-old midwife's behaviour included waving US flags bearing the slogan "No more meddling please".

But rejecting the MoD and police request, a judge said: "Courts ought not to allow anti-social behaviour orders to be used as a club to beat down the expression of legitimate comment".

Mrs Percy was, however, ordered to wear an electronic tag and to stay indoors during the evenings. Her lawyer has launched an appeal.




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