Hundreds of Asbos on cards as investigations carried out

HUNDREDS of residents in East Lothian face being hit with Asbos under investigations into their alleged antisocial behaviour, new figures revealed today.

A total of 338 investigations are currently being carried out in the county as the number of individuals being given an order has soared in recent years.

Council chiefs said that the orders were an “effective deterrent against reoffending” but hoped the majority of those being investigated would change their behaviour before it reached that stage.

The figures show that 42 full antisocial behaviour orders were issued in East Lothian in the past five years, with another four now being sought through the courts.

Nearly half of these Asbos have been issued in the last 18 months, with 19 granted in Haddington Sheriff Court since the start of last year.

Half of the 42 orders have been granted against women, with two pensioners among recipients. A 65-year-old man from Musselburgh received his order last March for abusing neighbours, while a 65-year-old man from Prestonpans was issued with an Asbo last August.

Teenagers make up a dozen of the cases, with five 16-year-olds, five 17-year-olds and two 18-year-olds.

Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, who is in charge of policing in East Lothian, said: “Antisocial behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by Lothian and Borders Police as it can have a significant impact on the lives of local people.

“In most cases, Asbos are issued as a last resort when an individual has failed to respond to every other intervention. The problem of antisocial behaviour is a complicated one, with no single quick-fix solution.”

Musselburgh has the highest volume of Asbos with 13, followed by Haddington with eight, both Prestonpans and Tranent with seven, and Whitecraig with two. Elphinstone, East Linton, Ormiston, Humbie and North Berwick each had one Asbo.

East Lothian Council had only a single Asbo granted in 2007, followed by six in 2008, eight in 2009, eight in 2010, 15 in 2011 and four this year.

Playing loud music, shouting, swearing and fighting were among the most common factors behind Asbos, while racist behaviour, shoplifting and being aggressive towards ambulance staff also feature.

A 42-year-old man from Musselburgh was given an Asbo in 2010 for sectarian singing and Thomas Rodger, 56, also from Musselburgh, received an order banning him from “behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner” last year.

A council spokeswoman said: “Residents have become more aware that they don’t have to put up with antisocial behaviour in their community.

“We have a number of measures that we will try to change nuisance behaviour before it reaches the legal stage, including meetings, warnings and acceptable behaviour agreements.

“There are still a number of people that will refuse to change their actions and an Asbo is necessary. The fact that breaching an Asbo is a criminal offence also reinforces the consequences and, we believe, make them an effective deterrent against reoffending.”