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Criminal Defence Articles

A guide to Criminal Behaviour Orders in the UK

Possession of a bladed articles | Defence Solicitors

A criminal behaviour order (CBO) is a court order in the United Kingdom that can be issued against an individual who has been convicted of a crime and has engaged in behaviour that is likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress to members of the public. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you or someone you know has been given a CBO – or at least might be facing one. And, if this is the case, understandably you are concerned about what this means and what is likely to happen next. This article is intended to help you understand what CBOs are and how they are different from other orders, like anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), which are commonly confused with CBOs. It will also help you to understand what to expect if you are issued with a CBO.

What do criminal behaviour orders do?  

As mentioned, a CBO is a court order issued against someone who has already been convicted of a crime and has engaged in behaviour that is likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress to members of the public. CBOs were introduced by Section 22 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (ABCPA 2014). A CBO can be imposed in addition to a sentence for a criminal offence and is designed to prevent the individual from engaging in similar behaviour in the future.

A CBO can contain a range of conditions that the individual must follow, such as prohibiting them from entering certain areas or from contacting certain people. If the individual breaches a condition of the CBO, they may be arrested and brought back to court, where they may face further penalties, including imprisonment. CBOs are intended to protect the public from further harm and to prevent individuals from committing further offences. They are typically used in cases where an individual has engaged in persistent or serious anti-social behaviour.

Who applies for a CBO?

A CBO can be applied for by the prosecution in the United Kingdom. This usually means that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will make the application, either on its own or at the request of the police. In some cases, a local council may also be able to apply for a CBO, but there is a requirement that it has the prosecuting authority in the case (otherwise, the decision remains with the CPS). It is important to note that the court does not have the power to impose a CBO on its own initiative; it can only do so if an application has been made by the prosecution or a local council.

Who issues a criminal behaviour order?

While the CPS is (usually) the body that formally applies for a CBO, the authority that actually issues it is the court. When the court grants a CBO, it will specify the conditions that the individual must follow and the length of time that the CBO will remain in place.

What happens when you breach a CBO?

Breach of a CBO is governed by Section 30(1) of the ABCPA 2014. That section stipulates that a person commits an offence where, without reasonable excuse, they:

  • do anything they are prohibited from doing by a CBO, or
  • fail to do anything they are required to do by a CBO.

If an individual breaches a condition of a CBO, they may be arrested and brought back to court. At the court hearing, the prosecution will present evidence of the breach and the individual will have the opportunity to defend themselves. If the court finds that the individual has breached the CBO, they may face further penalties, which could include imprisonment.

Remember, breaching a CBO is a criminal offence in itself, and the individual may be charged with this offence even if they have not committed any other criminal offences. If the individual is found guilty of breaching a CBO, they may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years or to an alternative punishment, such as a fine or community service. The court will consider the circumstances of the case and the individual’s previous criminal history when determining the appropriate sentence.

How long does a CBO last?

The length of time that a CBO lasts depends on the specific circumstances of the case and the age of the offender. When a CBO is imposed, the court will specify the length of time that the CBO will remain in place. This can be for a fixed period of time, such as six months or one year, or it can be an indefinite CBO, which remains in place until the individual successfully applies to have it lifted or varied.

  • For those under the age of 18 at the time of issuance, the order will be made for between 1 and 3 years.
  • For those over the age of 18 at the time of issuance, the order will be made for at least 2 years, with the possibility of an indefinite order.

Indefinite CBOs are typically used in cases where the individual has engaged in persistent or serious anti-social behaviour and it is deemed necessary to protect the public from further harm. In such cases, the CBO will remain in place until the individual can demonstrate to the court that their behaviour has changed and that it is no longer necessary to impose the CBO.

It is important to note that an individual can apply to have a CBO varied or lifted at any time if they believe that the conditions of the CBO are no longer necessary or appropriate. The court will consider the application and will decide whether to vary or lift the CBO based on the circumstances of the case. As with any other application, substantial evidence is required to prove that circumstances have changed enough for them to warrant removal or variance of the conditions.

Evidence might include:

  • Proof of obtaining a new job
  • Showing consistent adherence to a curfew or other conditions
  • Starting a volunteering position to give back to the community
  • Taking action to control drink or drug problems
  • Engaging in rehabilitation programmes of another nature

What is a Serious Crime Prevention Order?

A criminal behaviour order is different from a Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO). An SCPO is an order imposed by the court to reduce or prevent criminal activity or involvement in serious crime that has already been committed. The purpose of an SCPO is to prevent further criminal activity, either by the same individuals involved at the time of conviction or by any other individuals associated with the criminal activity.

Unlike a criminal behaviour order, an SCPO can be imposed on an individual who has already been convicted of a criminal offence or who is reasonably suspected to have committed criminal acts in the past. The court can also impose restrictions that are more far-reaching than those that are allowed under criminal behaviour orders. For example, the court can impose restrictions on an individual’s lifestyle, such as their travel or business activities.

In addition to criminal behaviour orders and Serious Crime Prevention Orders, other legal remedies may be available to protect individuals from criminal activity in the UK. These include restraining orders, criminal anti-social behaviour injunctions, and civil injunctions.

What is the difference between an ASBO and a CBO?

A CBO and an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) are two different types of orders used to protect the public by preventing criminal or anti-social behaviour. An ASBO is a civil injunction issued by a court to prohibit an individual from engaging in certain activities that cause, or are likely to cause, alarm, harassment or distress to any other person. An ASBO typically lasts for up to two years and the breach of an ASBO is a criminal offence that can result in imprisonment.

What are some examples of ABSO behaviour?

Examples of criminal or anti-social behaviour that can lead to the imposition of an ASBO or a criminal behaviour order include:

  • threatening or violent acts
  • criminal damage and vandalism
  • drink driving
  • illegal drug use and possession
  • criminal nuisance such as playing loud music late at night
  • public nuisance such as begging in public places
  • harassment
  • racial abuse

Where to get more help with a CBO?

If you or someone you care about has questions about the CBO application or issuance process, or you’re worried about exactly what happens when you are under the conditions of a CBO, reach out to the experts at Stuart Miller Solicitors today. Our team of criminal defence solicitors have decades’ worth of experience helping people with CBOs and related behaviour orders. Get in touch today for a free, no obligation consultation about your options.

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