The criminal behaviour order has been introduced to give agencies and communities what they need to deal with the hard-core of persistently anti-social individuals who are also engaged in criminal activity. The court may make a criminal behaviour order against the offender if two conditions are met:
(i) the person has engaged in behaviour that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons; and
(ii) the court considers that making the order will help in preventing the offender from engaging in such behaviour.
The court may make a criminal behaviour order against the offender only if it is made in addition to
a) a sentence imposed in respect of the offence, or
b) an order discharging the offender conditionally. If the offender is under 18, the prosecution must find out the views of the local youth offending team before applying for a criminal behaviour order.
A criminal behaviour order is granted for a specific period of time and if it includes a requirement, must specify the person who is to be responsible for supervising compliance. It may include provision for the order (or a prohibition or requirement included in the order) to cease to have effect if the offender satisfactorily completes an approved course specified in the order.
Breaching the order would have tough criminal sanctions with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
A young person has been convicted of criminal damage after breaking the window of an elderly person’s house following an ongoing campaign of harassment. WIth the Criminal Behaviour Order, they can be prevented from going near their victim’s house, but also make good the damage to the victim’s window and engage with a mentoring programme to address the reasons why they were harassing the victim.
Our Original Analysis when it became Law
The criminal behaviour order is essentially replacing the ASBO on conviction (Anti-Social Behaviour Order), which had previously been awarded as an additional preventative measure when someone was already in court on a criminal charge.
The new Criminal Behaviour Order is for people who have both committed a crime and are engaging in anti-social behaviour. The government itself talks about the hard-core offenders. It seems somewhat improbable that attendance on a course will make such a striking difference. Also in the example above, there is a contradiction between keeping away from the victim but also ‘making good the damage’ to the window.
We would suggest that the success of attendance on courses would need to be closely monitored. It is also unclear how long the procedure would take to secure Criminal Behaviour Orders (note: unlike the Injunction, a judge must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the offence was actually committed to issue a Criminal Behaviour Order).