There's a lot of misguided criticism of ASBOs - usually from politicians too out-of-touch with their communities to appreciate how anti-social behaviour blights people's everyday lives.
On Wednesday I received an email about the successful prosecution of an individual who had created a great deal of distress and annoyance in Darlington town centre. I'll print it in full - it gives a flavour of the anti-social behaviour this character got up to, but also the penalties which have now been imposed.
Darlington Council's ASB Team successfully obtained a five year ASBO against Robert Joseph Fortune this morning at Darlington Magistrates Court. The ASBO was a joint application between the ASB Team and the North Road Police Beat Team, prosecuted by Darlington Council, and was made following concerns regarding the sustained behaviour of Robert Fortune, which was often sexual in nature, alcohol fuelled and considered alarming.
Roberts behaviour has caused the Police and Local Authority considerable concern for some time and was described as sexually motivated and predatory nature particularly aimed at young girls and in the town centre of Darlington. Evidence was gathering relating to Fortune's drunken and lewd manner and several complaints were made to Police and LA were submitted as evidence for the prosecution.
Despite several arrests, Fortune has continued to cause alarm to children and parents within Darlington and the decision was taken by the Police and ASB Team to pursue and ASBO to prohibit future conduct of this nature.
The 5 year ASBO against Robert Fortune prohibits him from engaging in the following activity throughout England and Wales:-
Engaging in conduct which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to anyone.
Entering the Town Centre of Darlington - the Defendant is allowed to ride upon a bus upon the ring road.
Consuming any intoxicating substances whilst in a public place.
Using abusive or offensive language in public.
Carrying out any lewd or indecent acts in public.
Associating and communicate with any females under the age of 16 years.
Inciting or encouraging others to commit any act prohibited by this Order.
If Fortune breaches the ASBO he faces up to 5 years in prison and/or £5000 fine. Full publicity will follow in the form of posters which will be displayed in the banned area detailing the prohibitions.
That seems to me to be exactly the right response, and I'd like to congratulate the Rebecca Timmiss and the rest of the Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Team and the Police's North Road Beat Team for a job well done.