A record number of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) was handed out in the first three months of this year, according to the latest figures from the Home Office.

From January to March 2005 897 ASBOs were issued, 16% of the 5,557 issued since the civil order was launched.

The figure from the first three months of this year is double the number of ASBOs issued over the same period last year, with 53% handed out to adults and 44% to juveniles, while 3% were age unknown. Although the number of ASBOs handed out exceeded the government’s target of 5,000, the Home Office is concerned that some police forces are still failing to hand out ASBOs when needed.

Home Office minister Hazel Blears said: “These new figures show that there are still many people suffering at the hands of irresponsible and threatening individuals. “ASBOs are useful tools in imposing restrictions on the behaviour of individuals who have behaved in an anti-social way, and they protect communities from often longstanding and highly intimidating activity.”

Breaching an ASBO is a criminal offence and the maximum penalty for such an offence is five years imprisonment or a fine of up to £5,000.