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What is an ASBO and what happens when you get one

If the council, or a registered social landlord, has applied for an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) against you, or someone else in your household, this page can give you some guidance. It also tells you how an ASBO will affect you if one has already been granted.

What is an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO)?

An antisocial behaviour order (ASBO) is an order, given out by a court, to stop a person from behaving in certain ways or doing certain things.

Find out more about ASBOs.

An ASBO has been granted against me - what do I need to know?

If a court has granted an ASBO against you, or against someone else in your household, there are a few things you should know. The information you need will depend on whether:

  • a council or registered social landlord has applied for an ASBO but the case hasn't been to court yet, or
  • the court has already made its decision and an ASBO has been granted against you or someone in your household.

This page gives an overview but you should contact Shelter's Advice Service if you need further advice.

Why is there an ASBO against me?

If the ASBO has already been granted, it has been issued under specific antisocial behaviour laws to stop you behaving in an antisocial way (ASBOs usually stop people from doing something or going somewhere in particular).

If there is an ASBO against you, it means that something you have been doing has been causing alarm or distress to other people. You may or may not have been aware of this. The ASBO is there to protect other people from your antisocial behaviour.

The behaviour that's been upsetting them may have been happening in your own home, in your street, in someone else's street or even somewhere public like the local shopping centre or park, but it will have happened more than once. Our page about antisocial behaviour has more information.

If an ASBO has been granted against you, it means that the court has looked at the evidence and decided that your behaviour is unacceptable and that it has to take some steps to make you stop behaving in a particular way and disturbing others.

Do I have to stick to the ASBO?

Yes. An ASBO is a court order and you must read it very carefully and do what it tells you. The ASBO itself won't give you a criminal record but you'll be committing a criminal offence if you don't do what the ASBO says. If you break any of the terms in it, the police can arrest you and you could end up having to pay a big fine. You could also end up with a criminal record. If you rent your home, your tenancy could also be affected. Have a look at our page on antisocial behaviour and eviction for more information.

ASBOs can cover lots of different types of behaviour but, generally speaking, the order will tell you to stop doing something (for example, playing loud music or putting your rubbish in the stairwell) or going somewhere (for example, hanging about at a corner shop or going to a specific street).

If you don't understand what the ASBO means, contact Shelter's Advice Service or get advice from a solicitor. Whatever you do, don't ignore the ASBO because it won't go away.

How long does an ASBO last for?

It depends on what the court has decided, although there are no maximum or minimum time limits. The ASBO itself will tell you how long it applies for. Your ASBO might be for a short, specified period of time or it might apply indefinitely.

The council or registered social landlord may review your ASBO after a certain time to see if it's still appropriate but they don't have to.

What is an interim ASBO?

The court can also grant temporary ASBOs (called 'interim ASBOs') for a short period of time until it decides whether or not to grant a full ASBO. This will usually happen if the court thinks that your behaviour is causing a big problem and something needs to be done immediately until it can consider all the facts and make a final decision.

The ASBO itself will state whether it's an interim order or a final order but if you're not sure, get further advice. Again, it's really important that you make sure you know what the terms are and you must not ignore the ASBO under any circumstances.

What if I don't agree with the ASBO?

Before an ASBO has been granted

If a council or a registered social landlord has applied to the court to get an ASBO against you but it has not yet been granted, you should be told about this. You can get a solicitor to appear in court on your behalf if you wish. They can put your case to the court and may be able to prevent the ASBO being granted. Contact the Law Society of Scotland for details of solicitors who deal with antisocial behaviour cases.

After an ASBO has been granted

If the ASBO has already been granted and you feel that it has been granted unfairly or if you don't agree with it, you can appeal against the court's decision to grant the ASBO.

Can an ASBO be changed or cancelled?

If the court turns down your appeal and sticks to its original decision, you can then apply to the court to have the ASBO varied (changed) or revoked (cancelled). However, you will have to wait for the appeal to be decided before you can ask the court to vary or revoke the ASBO.

Your local council or registered social landlord can also ask the court to vary or revoke the ASBO. If you were present in court when the ASBO was granted, this should have been explained to you at the time.

If you are a child, or if the ASBO has been granted against a child in your household, the court has to consider the views of the Children's Reporter before deciding whether to vary or revoke the ASBO. A registered social landlord must also consult with the local council if a child is involved.

If a registered social landlord has applied for variation or revocation, it must tell the local council that it has done so.

What if I have a disability, illness or medical condition?

If you have a diagnosed medical problem or behavioural problems, then the court may decide that it wouldn't be appropriate to grant an ASBO against you.

However, it's not enough just to say that you can't help your behaviour, you'll have to prove it. Some of the things that will be looked into include the extent of your medical condition or disability and whether or not you have the capacity to understand right from wrong. You'll probably need a letter from your doctor and maybe some evidence from other specialists who know more about your condition.

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This content applies to Scotland only.
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