23 April, 2010
It was reported in the national media in April 2010 that a woman from Bromsgrove has been issued with a Drink Banning Order (DBO) for the maximum possible period of 2 years and is valid across the whole of the country. The terms of the DBO mean that she is not permitted to purchase any alcohol from any licensed premises, pub or club in England and Wales or drink alcohol in public places. The woman was said to have been involved in a significant number of public order offences which led to the DBO application.
Tools such as DBOs can help to tackle alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour, which can cause considerable disruption to communities and can cause misery to its victims.
DBOs were introduced on 31 August 2009 and are civil orders which can be in force for a period of between two months and two years. They can be applied for by either the Police or local authorities against individuals over the age of 16 in the magistrates' and county courts and are intended to be a 'short sharp shock' for the individual.
As the name suggests, it is a requirement of a DBO for the alleged criminal or disorderly behaviour to be alcohol related (for example by the individual being intoxicated when they carried out the alleged offences). If there is no element of alcohol being present in a particular case, then alternative remedies will have to be used.
The aim is to tackle the root cause of the behaviour by clamping down on the individual's ability to drink and thus restricting their intake of alcohol.
As stated previously, any behaviour which is complained of to the court must be alcohol related. In light of this, in order for a DBO to be granted the court must be satisfied that the individual has:
Offenders who breach the terms of a DBO can be fined up to a maximum of £2,500 and under certain circumstances, a DBO can be varied or discharged and appeals can be made against such an order being made. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 (which introduced DBOs) also provides for the making of interim DBOs.
A DBO may impose any prohibition on the individual that the court considers necessary to protect others from alcohol related crime or disorderly conduct by the individual, while under the influence of alcohol.
The only requirement to be kept in mind is for any prohibitions to be necessary and proportionate and so they may only focus on preventing the person from consuming alcohol in public places, or from purchasing alcohol from licensed premises in a defined area. It is not intended for the person to be prevented from accessing their home or place of work.
Recipients of a DBO can also be referred by the court to an approved course where the person will be able to address their alcohol misuse behaviour. If the individual completes the course to a satisfactory standard, the duration of the DBO can be reduced. In the Bromsgrove example mentioned previously, the court stated that successful completion of the course could mean that the length of the DBO is cut by half. Such initiatives can provide a real drive for individuals to positively change their behaviour.
These courses are available across the country but can only be utilised if the court is satisfied that there is a place available for the person and that they have voluntarily agreed to attend and have the requirement included in the DBO.
Although they are a relatively recent addition to the anti-social toolkit, DBOs provide a way to deal with specific behaviour which is closely linked to the consumption of alcohol. It not only offers a way to deter the individual from behaving in a criminal or publicly offensive manner again, but also presents a way for the person to confront the root cause of their behaviour.
The flexibility of the DBO, as evidenced by its scope being potentially nationwide, means that those involved in tacking anti social behaviour should be aware of its potential use.