An Anti-Social Behaviour Order is an Order of the Court which tells an individual over 10 years old how they must not behave.They have always seemed to me to be little more than somebody saying, "You've been a bad boy. Don't do it again." I understand that in some areas, teenagers consider an ASBO a badge of honour, proof that they are at one with the rest of the gang.
An Order can contain only negative prohibitions. It cannot contain a positive obligation. To obtain an ASBO, a two-stage test must be satisfied by the applicant authority (see s.1(1) Crime and Disorder Act 1998). The first is that the defendant has committed acts causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress within six months of the date of issue of the summons. The second is that an order is necessary to protect persons from further anti-social behaviour.
But where, you might ask, does the avian reference in the heading come in? Quite simply, it was how one newspaper described the herring gull.
The herring gull grows to or just over 2 feet long and has a wingspan of about 4 feet. It is possibly the most common gull around the shores of this country - and, indeed, inland. And at this time of the year it can be particularly badly behaved.
The species has become almost immune to the presence of people. In fact, it seems to be drawn to them, especially if they have food. Here in Brighton they will swoop to seize chips or other food from the hand - and not just singly; usually they operate in gangs. They have been know to attack and kill small dogs, and even a tortoise was flipped over so that its soft underside could be attacked.
The gulls often nest on buildings and when they have young, they become especially aggressive, attacking people who are judged to have approached too close to the nest.
But the herring gull is a protected species and it is an offence to disturb the nests or to kill the birds without first obtaining a special license. Even with a license, it is difficult for local authorities to know just how to control the herring gull population. The most usual way is, I believe, to smash the eggs - presumably the smashing being done by men wearing full protective clothing!
A few years ago our neighbours fed the herring gulls by throwing bread onto their garage roof. One particular gull would wait on the corner of the garage, calling impatiently until food was provided. He or she even brought the youngster along for a meal. Thankfully, I can say that our neighbours no longer feed the critters.