Wednesday, May 05, 2010

More ASBO madness

Prosecutors in the UK tried to issue an ASBO for wearing low-slung trousers and a hoodie:

Ellis Drummond, 18, was facing an asbo preventing him from "wearing trousers so low beneath the waistline that members of the public are able to see your underwear". He would have been banned from displaying his underpants anywhere in public in the borough of Bedford, and wearing a hood up in any public place in the area.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had intended to include the prohibitions in an asbo for Drummond, from Rushden, after he was convicted of assault, possession of drugs and a public order offence at Bedford magistrates court on 27 April. But before the court hearing, and following discussions with Drummond's defence solicitor, it was decided that the bans were "no longer necessary or proportionate to protect the public from further acts of anti-social behaviour", the CPS said.

I'm glad they've seen sense, but I'm boggled that they tried in the first place. To remind people, violating an ASBO brings a penalty of five years imprisonment. And that is not something the police should be handing out for fashion crime.

I'm also boggled about the ASBO Drummond was given, banning him from "approaching anyone and seeking money or personal items of property belonging to them using threatening words or behaviour" - otherwise known as mugging people. But that's already illegal, and can result in imprisonment. The effects of the ASBO in this case seem to be to increase the penalty above that legislated by Parliament, while also lowering the standard of evidence required to impose it. So we're not just seeing ASBOs used to criminalise perfectly legal behaviour, but also to corrupt the judicial system. I'm just glad we don't have them here.