An Asbo telling a 13-year-old to “not act in an antisocial manner” has been criticised by judges for being too vague following an appeal at the High Court.
The case was brought to the High Court last week by the Crown Prosecution Service. Lawyers argued on their behalf against a magistrate court decision that the youth was not in breach of an Asbo served by Manchester Council in 2003 as it was “too widely drawn”.
Although the appeal was upheld, Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice David Clarke did not overturn the district judge’s decision.
Richards said that the Asbo could not be understood without greater explanation of what was meant by being antisocial and “lacked the essential element of clarity as to what he was and was not permitted to do”.
“In our judgement, such a wide provision as ‘not to act in an antisocial manner’ without further definitions should never again be included in an Asbo,” Richards said.
Francis Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, welcomed the “common sense” decision.
“Hopefully this will ensure future orders are clearer,” she said. “However, the problem is that Asbos tend to be issued against children and the most vulnerable, and therefore those who are less likely to make a fuss.”