Minister asks Garda boss to examine use of anti-social behaviour orders

Minister asks Garda boss to examine use of anti-social behaviour orders

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has asked Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to examine what could be improved in the use of Asbos. File picture: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Justice Minister Helen McEntee has asked Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to examine the use of anti-social behaviour orders (Asbo) in a bid to crack down on the scenes of antisocial behaviour witnessed in parts of the country in recent weeks.

Ms McEntee told the Irish Examiner there is a wide discrepancy in the use of Asbos in different areas.  

Brought into effect in 2007, an Asbo can be issued by a judge against someone if a garda of superintendent rank or higher applies for one against an adult who is harassing, persistently alarming, distressing, intimidating, or causing fear to another person.

Failure to comply with an Asbo may trigger a fine of up to €3,000 or a jail sentence of up to six months.

Ms McEntee said that she has asked Mr Harris to examine what could be improved in the use of the orders. She said different districts and divisions use them in different manners and she wants a "better understanding" of the approach.

Community policing

However, she said that the system must go hand in hand with improvements in community policing.

"It's investment in communities, investments in education, in youth diversion programmes. I don't think it's any one element on its own. But that's an important part of it, because it kind of signals at an earlier stage that this person is perhaps going down the wrong track, but it's to try and pull it back before it gets to a worse age and adults into families," she said.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said that there is no need to expand the use of Asbos. He said that the orders can be seen as an infringement on civil liberties.

"Expanding Asbos is unnecessary and would be counterproductive. There are horror stories in Britain about how these are used to punish people playing football on the street or being sarcastic. I don't want to see that sort of infringement on civil liberties here," he said.

A spokesperson for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said that they have consistently opposed Asbos and would be against their expanded use. They said it would "undermine" the approach to youth justice in Ireland.

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