ASBO

£5.00

A Mother's Story
By Lisa Montgomery

ISBN: 978-1-84747-582-4
Published: 2008
Pages: 92
Key Themes: anti-social behaviour order, personal story, Mother's and family's story, social services, society


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Description

Anti Social Behaviour Orders have been given a fair amount of press coverage debating their effectiveness. Whilst some see them as the only means of avoiding further incidents others insist that they are viewed, by the recipients, as a ‘badge of honour’.

Whatever someone’s view they will no doubt believe that the youth concerned is little more than a hooligan who could use some discipline. They will immediately jump to the conclusion that the parents are at fault.

But when Zack was made subject to the terms of an ASBO people were generally surprised to find that his mother was supportive and had tried everything to keep her son on the straight and narrow.

From birth he was loved and cared for and started primary school as a polite, well mannered little boy. He got into a few scrapes, being given his first caution at the tender age of ten years of age, but was basically a ‘good boy’ until he reached secondary school.

He truanted and was disruptive in lessons and his mother was called in on several occasions to discuss his behaviour. He spent most of his second year taking a Conduct Form to each lesson - firstly to prove that he had actually attended that lesson and secondly to record his behaviour. During this time his mother received a letter warning her that she could receive a large fine or imprisonment if she did not ensure that he attended school.

Around this time he was given his second police caution after breaking in to a disused building with a group of friends. The summer holidays saw two police visits and countless complaints from the neighbours. By his third year things had deteriorated further. He was spending more and more time in the Exclusion Room at school and because this was evidently not proving to be effective his parents were grounding him at home as well.

Nonetheless there came a time when this did not work either and his mother was called in to collect him from the school premises. He was suspended on several occasions and threatened with permanent exclusion.

With the threat of expulsion his mother requested assistance from Social Services who were not able to help. But she did manage to obtain a placement at an alternative educational establishment. He left secondary school a few weeks later and his parents received a letter, from the Local Authority, expressing concern about his behaviour and the impending request for an ASBO.

His behaviour calmed down and the ASBO application was postponed. But ensuring that he attended the sessions and the work placement proved difficult as he was too large for his mother to physically drag there. She relied instead on persuasion, coercion and bribery. But still he did not attend regularly.

Trying to discipline him resulted in him running away for a ten day period. His parents were informed that Social Services could do nothing, as he was not ‘at risk’ and the police saw no point in returning him as his parents were not able to restrain him to keep him there.

Whilst he lived elsewhere, however, they were still legally responsible for him and would be held liable for any damage that he caused. He returned when he was accused of having vandalised several cars.

He was given a Final Warning for a Section 5 public order offence. He repeated this offence shortly afterwards resulting in his first court appearance and the application for a Referral Order. With this came the news that the application for the Anti Social Behaviour Order was now in place.

About the Author

Lisa Montgomery is a mother and author based in Wales.

Book Extract

As I stood in the court room I felt strangely calm. A part of me was relieved to be inside after spending nearly three and a half hours in the waiting room. I finally felt the apprehension slipping away from my body. Of course I had been in this court room a few times before so it was not as upsetting or as nerve racking as you might expect. It was also less daunting because I already knew what the outcome would be. It had been agreed in an earlier discussion.

I stood whilst the clerk confirmed my son’s full name, date of birth and address. He then turned his attention to me as I confirmed my own details. We were then told that we could take a seat. The Local Authority’s solicitor, Mr Lloyd, got to his feet and introduced himself. He then explained to the court why my son was going to be charged with an Anti Social Behaviour Order. Each offence, from a Section 5 Public Order Offence to graffiti and vandalism, was read out. Even though I read and heard them numerous times before I was still embarrassed and dismayed. Each one was another nail in Zack’s proverbial coffin as after a three month fight he had finally accepted that the local authority and the police were going to get their wish, that he was to be given an ASBO.

Three months earlier he had become subject to an Interim Order. This was issued as we were given the original hearing date only a few days beforehand, and I had not had time to obtain legal advice. When I read the detailed accounts and witness statements I felt at a loss to understand my son. Some incidents he admitted from the outset and were not a surprise, but there were others for which I had not been prepared.

The Interim Order prohibited Zack to go into certain streets and areas of where we lived. I joked that he could pretty much walk out of the front door and no further. I wasn't taking it lightly, but by now I was all cried out and had just accepted that an ASBO was inevitable. I had not always coped well. There were times when I felt despondent, angry, confused and of course guilty. Troublesome teenagers always give rise to the question “what about the parents?” I know because I have raised that question myself. However, Zach's behaviour never went unchecked. He was frequently grounded and had his pocket money discontinued. I also removed possessions such as his Playstation and television from his bedroom, but nothing worked.

A solicitor from a local firm, Mr Denham, was asked to denfend Zack's case and, as he had not had time to prepare a defence an adjournment was granted in order for him to do so. I do not think that he realised, at that time, how difficult that would prove to be. Mr Lloyd made a request that an Interim Order be put in place whereby Zack had to abide by the restrictions and rules set out in the full order until the full ASBO had been granted.

The local press were present and they were obviously very keen to report on this but as the full ASBO had not been awarded, Mr Denham argued that if the full order was later retracted then it was unfair to have had the Interim Order made public. The court agreed and therefore prohibited the press from reporting the case.

From the beginning Zack admitted to the majority of offences so his solicitor was restricted in what he could actually say in his defence. Zack could offer no explanation for his behaviour, so Mr Denham decided to seek an assessment with Zack’s full co-operation. Mr Denham was surprised at how reasonable Zack could be, especially when confronted with the evidence of how offensive he usually was when faced with someone in authority. However, Mr Denham admitted that our chances of avoiding the ASBO were slim to non existent. The police and Local Authorities had amassed a lot of evidence and had a well prepared case. Our only chance was to get an assessment that could call into question Zack’s mental health.


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This product was added to our catalog on Tuesday 04 March, 2008.

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