Students unruly? Give them an ASBO

July 22, 2005

Universities could push for powers to issue disruptive students antisocial behaviour orders, say lawyers working with the sector.

Experts on student eviction at law firm Eversheds have advised the Association for Student Residential Accommodation that an ASBO would be useful in dealing with dangerous students in halls.

The idea was this week welcomed by George Blanchflower, chairman of the Association of University Chief Security Officers. "It is always nice to have another missile in the armoury," he said.

Nicola Buchanan of Eversheds said her firm had seen an increased number of universities wanting advice on dealing with "general antisocial behaviour".

Currently only the police, local councils and housing associations have the power to issue Asbos. Universities can apply for an injunction to control a disruptive student but they must go through lengthy court proceedings if the bad behaviour continues. With an Asbo, the police are called and the offender is arrested immediately.

Ms Buchanan said: "Universities have to address this interim period (while they institute proceedings) for really serious cases when they are reluctant to leave the student in accommodation.

"It would be nice for them to have the ability to give Asbos." She predicted universities would lobby for legislation to enable them to issue Asbos in high-profile cases of student disruption.

But such a change was opposed by Veronica King, vice-president of the National Union of Students. She said: "It is an infringement of students'

rights. Who is going to decide when a student is behaving antisocially? It could be used too freely."

Features, page 19

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