Vulnerable people with mental health problems are being sent to prison for breaching Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions (ASBIs) imposed for feeding pigeons, street begging and playing dominoes in public, according to an investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
The work, funded by TLEF, was prompted by the lack of accessible information provided by the Home Office, Ministry of Justice or HM Courts & Tribunals Service about the impact of ASBIs in the civil courts.
The investigation comes two years after a report by the Civil Justice Council found that ASBIs were “not working” and that “as a matter of urgency” data should be collected and made available “in order to assess the use and efficacy of orders”.
This underscored the findings of an earlier report by the Council also published in 2020, which called for urgent action to improve the data on vulnerable users in the civil courts
The Government has not responded publicly to either report.
Commenting on the TBIJ investigation, TLEF’s Director of Research Dr Natalie Byrom said:
“This investigation reveals the weakness of current arrangements for dealing with anti-social behaviour, and the risks they pose to very vulnerable people. It also further highlights the ‘data desert’ across our civil courts.
“It is now more than two years since two reports urged the Government to provide more data about ASBIs and improve information on vulnerable parties in civil cases. Yet since then, there has been next to nothing in response.
“This lack of action is reflective of a wider failure to invest in effective data collection and governance across our courts and tribunals service. Without such investment we will continue to struggle to improve the impact and effectiveness of the justice system.”
You can read the full investigation here.