THE Government?s drive to curb yobbish behaviour was dealt a serious blow yesterday as it emerged that rising numbers of ASBOs were being flouted.
Two out of three antisocial behaviour orders obtained by councils in areas where the Home Office pioneered the policy were being breached, it was revealed.
The figures will fuel suspicions by opponents of the orders that the overall breach rate in England and Wales has risen and has exceeded 50 per cent. Home Office officials have been unable to disclose the breach rate for 2004 despite saying in May that they hoped to publish the figures within two months.
But figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that a large percentage of ASBOs issued in Sheffield and Westminster ? two of ten areas where the order was pioneered ? were being breached by yobs.
In Sheffield, the home city of David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, 68 per cent of ASBOs issued between 2002 and last year were flouted, according to the information obtained by Regeneration and Renewal magazine.
In 2003, 45 per cent of the orders issued by Sheffield City Council were breached, rising to 81 per cent in 2004 and 100 per cent last year. One individual breached an order 24 times and another 16 times in 2003.
Figures for Westminster obtained by the magazine showed that 61 per cent had been breached between 2002 and last year. The number of breaches was 162 ? an average of six offences for each of the 27 breached orders.
The breach rate in Sheffield and Westminster was much higher than the last government figures showing that 42 per cent of orders issued between June 2000 and December 2003 were flouted.
ASBOs are at the heart of the Government?s drive to tackle yobbish behaviour, and 7,356 have been issued in England and Wales. Ministers hailed the rising number of orders. A Home Office spokeswoman said that the breaches were not necessarily a sign that ASBOs were failing.