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Antisocial behaviour orders jump 43 per cent

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Mar 31 (Reuters) The number of antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) issued in England and Wales rose 43 per cent in the first nine months of 2005 compared to the same period the year before, according to Home Office figures.

Home Office Minister Hazel Blears yesterday said she was encouraged that police and local authorities were ''not hesitating'' to use the orders, which typically restrict individuals from entering an area where they have been causing trouble.

But Martin Narey, former head of the prison service, said the civil orders were being overused on children and ''catapulting'' some of them into custody.

Juveniles aged 10 to 17 accounted for two-fifths of the 2,700 orders issued between January and September 2005.

The use of the orders has been accelerating since the government introduced them in 1998 to tackle unruly youths, drug addicts and beggars.

In the first nine months of last year, courts approved as many ASBOs as in the whole of 2004, bringing the total issued since they became available in 1999 to 7,356.

Narey, who left the Home Office to become chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, said the use of the orders in some areas against juveniles was becoming routine.

''ASBOs have their place but their over-use is unnecessarily catapulting children into a custodial system which has so many children in it that the chances of rehabilitation are extremely slim and the chances of deeper criminalisation very likely.'' REUTERS PV SP1057

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