Tory anger at failure of Asbos

Antisocial behaviour orders were last night defended by police in Norfolk after new figures were released showing that more than a third of yobs breach their orders.

Antisocial behaviour orders were last night defended by police in Norfolk after new figures were released showing that more than a third of yobs breach their orders.

Brandon Lewis, the Conservative parliamentary spokesman for Yarmouth, who published the findings yesterday, said that it was important the authorities take a tougher stance if they were to be any more than a "badge of honour" for offenders.

The data from Norfolk police shows that since Asbos were introduced in 1999, 150 orders have been issued in Norfolk and 55 of these have been breached.

He said: "These figures are worrying reading for everyone here in Norfolk. It would seem to me that Asbos are not being taken seriously if over a third of all the orders issued are being breached.

"My investigation shows that offenders have no respect for Asbos. It has been reported, by the Youth Justice Board, that Asbos have become a 'badge of honour' among certain groups of young people. This is an image we must eradicate.

"These statistics will be of little comfort to local people suffering from the blight of antisocial behaviour.

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"Most young people no longer regard the threat of custody for flouting an Asbo as 'real'.

"The Asbo system is yet another headline-catching gimmick from a government short on ideas."

A Norfolk police spokesman said that Asbos were a useful tool as they allowed the force to intervene and bring people back into the criminal justice system so their behaviour could be dealt with.

He added: "There is no guarantee the order won't be breached but where this does happen, the offenders are arrested and brought before the court to face the consequences and quite often this will mean a prison sentence.

"Asbos provide a way to curtail a person's behaviour where otherwise that individual's conduct may not amount to a criminal offence but they are still causing significant problems in the community.

"They are not the only avenue open to police but they are successful in many cases."

The figures also show the number of orders issued in the county has fallen in recent years, peaking at 47 in 2004 and dropping to 25 last year.

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