Labour warns against the huge fall in the number of ASBOs in Southampton as authorities left in limbo

John Denham, Southampton Itchen Labour MP has joined with Labour’s Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Hampshire Jacqui Rayment, to slam the Tory-led government as new figures show that the numbers of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) have slumped since the Tory-led government came to power.

Communities in Southampton are being left defenceless against anti-social behaviour as the use of ASBOs collapses.

  • The latest official figures show that the number of ASBOs issued in Hampshire has fallen by 69 per cent, from 29 issued in 2010, to only 9 this year.
  • A detailed breakdown obtained through FOI requests has also revealed that in the first two quarters of 2012 only 9 ASBOs were issued by Hampshire and Isle of Wight police force.

Since they were introduced, ASBOs have been used to tackle a wide range of persistent problems and troublemakers in the Southampton area – these include:

  1. Fly tipping.

In Summer 2011, the City’s most prolific fly-tipper was jailed for two years and given a five year nationwide ASBO banning him from dumping any waste without certification, anywhere in England and Wales.  This summer Southampton has been identified as having the highest number of reported fly-tipping incidents in the whole South East region.  In October, a 40 ft high mountain of fly-tipped waste caused part of a sewage pipe to burst at Botany Bay Road, Sholing.

2.  Dispersal orders.  The Anti-Social Behaviour Act gave police the powers to disperse groups of two or more people where residents are likely to suffer harassment, intimidation, alarm or distress.  People under 16 who are behaving in an antisocial manner in public places after 9pm may be returned to their homes. If they return to the same place within 24 hours they can be arrested.

In previous years, dispersal orders had been used successfully by the City Council to deal with problems in Sholing, at Warburton Road and Bitterne Precinct.

3.  Action on nuisance teenagers.  In 2002, a Southampton teenager was hit with an ASBO after a long history of hurling abuse at residents in and around the Montague Avenue area of Sholing, causing problems for a local clinic, a primary school and local shops in the area and also disturbing elderly residents living in an old people’s care centre.  Failure to meet the terms of the order meant he could have faced detention in a young offender’s institution.

4.    Tough action on repeat offenders who breach their orders.

In 2009 a 21 year old man was jailed for four months for breaching his ASBO, after he sent a pensioner crashing to the ground with his dangerous cycling and hurled abuse at a person who went to her aid, as well as hurling abuse at a police officer after being seen in possession of Cannabis in Bedford Place.

Also in 2009, a 23 year old man was jailed for nine months for breaching his ASBO when he went on a drunken driving spree in a car stolen from Shirley through Hampshire chased by the Police.  He had been banned from driving or even sitting in the front seat of a car because of his 106 previous convictions including dozens for driving offences.  In his attempt to evade police he had been driving at up to 80 mph down residential streets.

5.    Tackling kerb crawling in City red light districts

In 2006, a 46 year old man received an ASBO for kerb crawling in Southampton, which banned him from red lights areas in the City, and assisted Southampton’s vice-squad in their crackdown on the problems relating to street prostitution.

6.  Anti-social behaviour is still a live issue in many parts of the City.

At a recent meeting of community groups in the City with Mr Denham, many residents’ groups in the Polygon area repeated their concerns about anti-social behaviour by students in the area.  This is despite Hampshire Constabulary launching Operation Shush to make students living in HMOs in the Polygon area give consideration to their neighbours or face an £80 fine.

Southampton City Council’s Cabinet received a Safe City Partnership report in September which confirmed that anti-social behaviour has risen in the City this year

John Denham said:

“The Home Secretary Theresa May has trashed the tools used to tackle anti-social behaviour so it’s no wonder use is falling.

Theresa May took an irresponsible gamble with our community’s safety when she declared ‘It’s time to move beyond the ASB’. That was over two years ago and we are still waiting for her to bring forward legislation for its replacement”.

Jacqui Rayment said:

“The Tory-led government has left police and local councils in a state of confusion. They have been left in limbo, and so it is no wonder ASBO use is falling.  Communities have been left without the vital tools to crack down on loutish behaviour which blights the lives of so many people, because the Home Secretary has thrown a tried and tested system into chaos.”

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