The Government's flagship criminal justice measure, the anti-social behaviour order (Asbo), is being widely misused by police and local authorities, MPs have been warned.

Since they were launched in April 1999, the number of Asbos granted by magistrates' courts has risen dramatically and now totals 4,000, many of them against children.
Civil liberties groups have raised concerns that authorities are increasingly relying on the powers of the orders as a short-cut to imposing criminal punishments. The warning forms part of a report by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee's investigation into anti-social behaviour in Britain, which will be published on Tuesday.

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