The anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) was introduced as a means of addressing low level criminality and everyday anti-social behaviour the cumulative effect of which can be very detrimental upon individuals and local communities in general. Nonetheless, the ASBO has been criticised by academics and non-governmental organisations as a substitute to the criminal law and as a means of circumventing the criminal justice enabling the state to criminalise behaviour through alternatives to the criminal law.
In March 2015, Part 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 came into force. The Act repeals the ASBO with the new civil injunction. In contrast with the ASBO, under the 2014 Act breach of the new civil injunction does not constitute a criminal offence anymore. Rather, breach of the injunction is treated as a contempt of court. Still, however, it has to be examined whether the issue of the injunction itself constitutes a form of indirect criminalisation primarily due to the nature and severity of the restrictions that can be imposed on individuals against whom these injunctions are issued.
The methodology adopted in this research is an amalgamation of both doctrinal and empirical methods of researching. The researcher will examine the primary and secondary resources relating to this topic. For the empirical research, a qualitative method will be employed in order to collect data from two different areas in two different counties.
In particular, this will involve a number of semi-structured face-to-face interviews with local practitioners and members of the police who have an everyday interaction with anti-social behaviour and the use of the legal tools and powers provided; primarily the new civil injunction. The main objective of the empirical research is to gain an in-depth understanding of how these powers are used at a local level and whether their use constitutes a form of indirect criminalisation.