Tuesday 25 May 2010

The UK is weird

ASBO orders: Anti-Social Behaviour Ordinance. If the neighbors think you're annoying, they can ask the police to get a court order that you be less annoying. And if you continue with the named forms of grievance-giving, it's then a criminal violation of the ASBO.

This woman recently received an ASBO order prohibiting her from receiving male visitors at her home late at night; she had reportedly been running a small brothel from her home. HT: Puddlecote.

This guy is banned from carrying anti-religious pamphlets in public.

Life is strange in New Zealand's antipodes. Very strange. Here in Christchurch, The Wizard [yes, that is his official name] regularly gives anti-religious sermons in Cathedral Square, though he's now in retirement; he's also been commended by the Prime Minister. Suburban owner occupied brothels (SOOBs) are at best a zoning concern.


  1. ASBO seems like it could be quite expensive and troublesome to administer. When does slightly annoying but tolerable behaviour become anti-social?
    I can think of a few people in NZ that annoy me sufficiently, but slapping a court order on Hone Harawira, for example, would seem to be a bit of a violation of his freedom of speech. And probably futile anyway, I doubt he'd respect it.
    I expect a rash of civil disobedience in the UK from ASBO recipients, and can also imagine certain people wearing their ASBO as a badge of honour, and even competing to come up with the most outrageous reason for getting one.
    It'll be interesting to see what develops over in blighty.

  2. "The UK is weird"

    One of the most accurate titles I've ever read ;)

  3. Eric, I'm surprised you didn't link to this story from last year:


  4. Wow, that is amazing. Shows how easy it is to forget that it is a big diverse world.

  5. @Lats: Easy to see how ASBOs seem appealing though to suburban voters, and we can even imagine cases where they might be useful. And reports have it that ASBOs are indeed a badge of honour among some youths.

    @Seamus: I'd forgotten that one, thanks!

    @Robin: The Lib Dems have made promising noises on other margins; we'll see what if anything they do here.

  6. I believe that one of the big concerns with ASBOs is that the punitive options available for breaching the ASBO (up to 5 years in jail) can far outstrip whatever (if any) punitive options were available for the original 'offence'. Yes, you too can get a criminal record for being slightly annoying! I think it's one of those "it sounded really good in the pub at 2am" ideas, but the implementation and enforcement is fraught with issues. Sledgehammer vs nut anyone?

  7. Local brothels are often a significant problem for neighbours, and frankly I'd favour having some better way to get rid of them. One was established next door to a good friends place. They started getting a number of (often drunk) men calling to their front door at all hours (like 2 am, 3 am, etc) knocking loudly and often being very difficult to get to leave. Next week during the day when the 14 year old daughter happened to answer the door, the pundit on the step proclaimed loudly words to the effect "Wow, I'll take you..." and attempted to grapple with her. And the police don't try too hard, they think your just trying to get them to move the brothel on and they can't/won't.

    A great idea this, mixing brothels with family neighbourhoods. Luckily the house was rented, and the rental agreement had a clause forbidding running a business from it, but it was unpleasant while it lasted. So you might get some support for that sort of ASBO in NZ.

  8. @Ed: Sounds like no fun at all for your friend, but I can't see how ASBO would help: if the woman next door is being quiet about things and it's her customers who are causing problems, I can't see how the ASBO would work. In the UK case, the woman was said to be personally annoying, hence the ASBO.

    Sounds like a good case for discrete signage on SOOBs though to avoid that kind of confusion.