Her speech coincided with the publication of new asbo statistics showing that their use has fallen to its lowest level since 2003. Breach rates have also continued to rise, with more than 40% proving ineffective on more than one occasion.

The new figures show that more than 55% of the 16,999 asbos issued between 1999 and 2008 were breached – often many times over – confirming claims that they were seen by some teenage offenders as a "badge of honour". In more than half of cases, breaches led to an immediate custodial sentence.

The Home Office will now review the future of existing antisocial behaviour powers, with the home secretary raising the prospect of their replacement with "restorative justice" measures such as teenagers fixing the damage they have caused or carrying out community activities. "We want a complete change in emphasis, with communities working with the police and other agencies to stop bad behaviour escalating that far," said May.

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