Screen for mental health problems before making ASBOs, says charity

All people should be screened for mental health problems and learning disabilities before being put on anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), says a charity.

In recommendations made to a sentencing consultation on Asbos, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health also called for people with mental health problems to be given special consideration when sentenced for breaching an ASBO.

It argued ASBOs “often result in a fast-tracking of vulnerable individuals into the criminal justice system, and even to prison”.

Most recent figures available show that, in 2005, 9,853 ASBOs were issued. Between 1999 and 2005, just under 4,000 ASBOs were issued to 10 to 17 year olds

Research by the Home Office, the British Institute for Brain Injured Children and probation union NAPO shows a disproportionate number of people with mental health diagnoses are being put on ASBOs.

At least half of all ASBOs are breached and 6% of ASBOs result in a prison sentence for that breach alone.

The Sainsbury Centre also says there should be better mental health awareness training for court staff.

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