Anti-Social Behavior Orders

[This information is not a joke; see references at the bottom.]

An Anti-Social Behavior Order (ASBO) is a civil order, similar to an  injunction or restraining order, made against a person alleged to have engaged in anti-social behavior in the United Kingdom (although they call it behaviour.)

The idea, originally designed by Tony Blair and passed into British law as the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 and the Anti-Social Behavior Act of 2003, was to impose restrictions on an individual’s public behavior after minor incidents that would not ordinarily be criminal offenses.

In the UK, getting an ASBO is sometimes viewed as a badge of honor by juvenile delinquents. One reported figure is that 40-60% of ASBOs are imposed on people between 10 and 17 years of age.

An ASBO may be issued by a court against an individual in response to conduct which caused or was likely to cause harm, harassment, alarm or distress to someone. An ASBO is an Order of the Court which tells an individual over 10 years old how they must not behave. ASBOs can ban individuals from entering certain areas or carrying out specific acts for two years or more.

Technically, an ASBO restricts “conduct which caused or was likely to cause harm, harassment, alarm or distress, to one or more persons not of the same household as him or herself and where an ASBO is seen as necessary to protect relevant persons from further anti-social acts by the Defendant.”

There is no jury and hearsay evidence is admissible. If breached, the individual has committed a criminal offense which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Anti-social behavior can include a wide range of actions such as making noise, disturbing the neighbors by playing soccer in the street, busking [performing in public for money,] drunken behavior, disorderly behavior, loitering, littering, spitting, harassment, abusive language, fare dodging, placing advertising posters in illegal places, making graffiti, not picking up after one’s dog, associating with a gang or wearing gang related clothes, making excessive noise during sex, whistling, and attempting suicide.

There are safeguards in the law that are supposed to prevent frivolous use of the process; however, looking over the list in the previous paragraph of anti-social behaviors that have been prosecuted, one could see the potential for abuse, not to mention the violation of human rights.

Between April 1999 and December 2004, 4,649 ASBOs were issued in England and Wales and that number rose by over 100% by the end of 2005 to 9,853. By December 2007 14,972 ASBOs had been issued. In February 2007 the government revealed that 47% of these orders have been breached. It was reported in May 2008 that this figure had risen to 67%.

Mental health and ASBOs

Example: A woman who was given an ASBO for attempting suicide breached her ASBO and received a two-year supervision order.

In 2002 British Home Office data confirmed that 60% of ASBO recipients were found to have “medical mitigating factors,” including mental illnesses, addiction problems and learning disabilities.

Mental health advocates claim that these people should be given mental health treatment instead of court orders to stop behaving that way, recommending that mental health screening be given before any application for an ASBO proceeds. This becomes an argument for increased mental health funding. The biggest criminal justice-related charity in England and Wales, Nacro, claims that ASBOs are being used too hastily, before alternative remedies have been tried. Typically, their alternative remedies are mental health treatment. Nacro believes that where compulsory detention is necessary, this should usually be in a psychiatric hospital rather than a prison.

One newspaper article stated that “Youths given anti-social behaviour orders may benefit more from medical treatment than punishment, according to doctors who claim they are suffering from a mental illness.”

Community Treatment Orders, the so-called “psychiatric ASBOs,” impose conditions on patients being released from a psychiatric facility, such as taking medication. Patients who breach the orders could be returned to secure mental hospitals. A March, 2009 article stated that, “More than 1,200 people in England have been made subject to compulsory treatment outside hospital five months after the powers were introduced under the Mental Health Act 2007.”

ASBOs have the proven potential to vastly widen the net of the social control mechanism, catching people and trapping them within the mental health system.

What You Can Do

So far, the United States does not have ASBOs, although it does have Involuntary Commitment. It behooves one and all to familiarize themselves with this abusive advance in psychiatric violations of human rights and work to stop it from spreading.

  • Increase your knowledge about these issues. Obtain and watch your own copy of the CCHR documentary DVD Making A Killing–The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging. Show the DVD to family, friends and associates; get them to do the same.
  • Read about Involuntary Commitment by downloading and reading the CCHR Information Letter Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment – A Crack In The Door Of Constitutional Freedoms from www.CCHRSTL.org.
  • Attend and bring others to Briefings about CCHR and psychiatric fraud and abuse.
  • Inform yourself about CCHR and psychiatric fraud and abuse from these web sites:
  • Take some amount of responsibility for contributing your time and money to CCHR St. Louis. Volunteer for CCHR St. Louis.
  • Report adverse drug reactions to the US Food and Drug Administration,  encourage others to do so, and let us know when you do.
  • Report psychiatric abuse, encourage others to do the same, and let us know when you do.
  • Broadcast the CCHR Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights and let us know when you do.
  • Contact your school, church, media, and local, state and federal authorities and representatives to express your opinion and suggest alternatives to fraudulent and abusive psychiatric treatment, and let us know when you do. Some suggestions are:
    • advocate patient rights
    • replace psychiatric institutions with actual mental health homes or asylums
    • establish a refund system for failed psychiatric treatments
    • conduct audits of psychiatric facilities
    • add more fraud investigation units
    • require scientific, physical evidence of claimed “mental disorders”
    • outlaw coercive psychiatric treatments
    • hold agencies accountable for psychiatric harm
    • remove government funding from unworkable or failed psychiatric treatments
    • hold the psychiatrist, the institution at which he practices and the one that taught him, responsible in the case of wrongful deaths resulting from psychiatric treatment

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Social_Behaviour_Order http://www.statewatch.org/asbo/ASBOwatch.html http://www.asbowatch.ie/ http://www.asb.homeoffice.gov.uk/ http://www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk/asbos/asbos2.htm http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3109244/Anti-social-behaviour-is-a-mental-illness.html http://harpymarx.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/psychiatric-asbos-skyrocketing/

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