ASBO’s

15 September 2009 — 7 Comments

asboI got angry today – quite unusual for me. I sadly came across a range of leaflets printed by the police, each showing a mugshot, name and date of birth of young people that I know quite well.

Obviously there was a reason for such strange publicity. These young people had each been involved in a range of unruly activities which had led to them being given an Anti-Social Behaviour Order with various conditions attached. Each leaflet folded out to six pages highlighting the conditions of the order, maps of local areas they are barred from, and details of their misdemeanours. From DirectGov:

ASBOs are court orders that can stop an offender going to a certain area or spending time with certain people. There are a number of organisations that can apply for one, including the police, a local authority and the British Transport Police. ASBOs have been designed to protect members of the public from anti-social behaviour instead of punishing the offender, and to prevent similar behaviour in the future.

However, despite significant criticism I’m not against ASBO’s per se, and I believe that there should be an appropriate punishment for crime. Yet somehow plastering a young person’s name, photo and personal details across leaflets, posters, websites and newspapers hardly seems fair.

I suppose the thing that really got me was how the officers were handing out leaflets to members of the public, encouraging them to avoid these young people and portraying them as dangerous individuals. Knowing each of them for a number of years, I have seen their difficult family situations and witnessed their struggles. They’ve made some bad choices, but it doesn’t make them bad people.

One of the criticisms of ASBO’s is that:

There are no restrictions on reporting for ASBO proceedings, and, as such there is a risk of stigmatising youth, causing them to self-identify as criminals.

Personally, I think the public shaming that occurs in my locality serves to reinforce a negative attitude in the young people further isolating them from society.

I’m aware there are a range of views on this subject, so I’m hoping that readers will be air their opinions in the comments. What do you think about ASBO’s and the ‘naming and shaming’ policy?

Jon

Posts Twitter Facebook

I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

7 responses to ASBO’s

  1. I've never managed to form an opinion about them other than that I do suspect that they are more readily handed out to young people than they are to older people (but that may just be the impression I have from media reporting and the youth work reaction to it – I don't know the stats)

    I am in favour of action being taken against anyone who makes other peoples lives miserable. I do of course empathise with the difficulties some young people face and how that can lead to certain behaviours, but I also empathise with those who suffer that behaviour and the relief they must feel to see something being done about it.

    What I would criticise is that in my opinion there's nowhere near enough consideration given to services and provision for children aged under 13. I never had much trouble with teenagers when working on an estate (there was plenty of trouble but I always felt it could be dealt with one way or another), but young children could be huge problems because there really was nothing to offer them and yet you'd be looking at 7 year old kids and already thinking they'd be trouble for the rest of their lives. Part of the problem I think is that there's a snobbery in this country that working with younger children is inferior. It's somehow credible to be working with 'problem' young people, but not to be working towards preventing children from becoming problem young people.

    Maybe with more investment at those ages some genuinely preventative work could be done. That said there will always be those who cause problems and they'll always need dealing with somehow – so I still don't have an opinion on ASBO's!

  2. I think the labelling issue is a bit of a no-brainer for anyone who works with young people who have received an ASBO, for example we don't do this for people convicted with violent or sexual attacks.

    I don't think this argument will win in the public arena though so I think there is a need to move to the economic one. As stated above, prevention is better than cure and the diversionary element could be pushed further. For example it is reported that in Scotland alone the ASBO cost has been in the region of £7million over 4 years – surely a lot of preventative work could have been done for this amount of cash?

  3. Mike, I take your point about ABSO's being mainly handed out to young people. However, I still have issue with the concept. Because it's a civil order, people can be given them even when they have not broken any laws. If they then break the ASBO, they can be sent to prison without trial! I can't help but quote the story of the 48 year old woman given an ASBO for noisy sex with her husband, and then promptly jailed for loudly breaching the ban.

    I also agree with your point about existing services and longer-term prevention. This suggestion has made headlines this past week with the claim that investing in preventative work now will save billions in future. How long did it take them to realise that?!

  4. Hi Roger, as I just replied to Mike, the prevention argument is rather timely! Unfortunately the focus currently seems to be on children's services rather than youth justice. I can only hope that ASBO's get thrown back into the public critical eye in order to show how unfair and unethical they can be on young people.

  5. Hi Jon!
    I´ve never heard about this rude practice with these ASBO´s here in Germany.
    I know that people can be banned from special places or areas, but the officers won´t move from house to house and show pictures from the banned people.
    My opinion is, that the problems young people get have the reason in their families situation.
    If you live in a family that is using bad words (sorry for my english again!) you won´t go out and speak Oxford English. The families are coming more and more into my focus. I´ve heard a lecture at a willow creek youth congress about faith at home. And I think there is the key to find to solve many problems.
    GBU
    Ralf

  6. Hi Jon!
    I´ve never heard about this rude practice with these ASBO´s here in Germany.
    I know that people can be banned from special places or areas, but the officers won´t move from house to house and show pictures from the banned people.
    My opinion is, that the problems young people get have the reason in their families situation.
    If you live in a family that is using bad words (sorry for my english again!) you won´t go out and speak Oxford English. The families are coming more and more into my focus. I´ve heard a lecture at a willow creek youth congress about faith at home. And I think there is the key to find to solve many problems.
    GBU
    Ralf

  7. Hi Jon!
    I´ve never heard about this rude practice with these ASBO´s here in Germany.
    I know that people can be banned from special places or areas, but the officers won´t move from house to house and show pictures from the banned people.
    My opinion is, that the problems young people get have the reason in their families situation.
    If you live in a family that is using bad words (sorry for my english again!) you won´t go out and speak Oxford English. The families are coming more and more into my focus. I´ve heard a lecture at a willow creek youth congress about faith at home. And I think there is the key to find to solve many problems.
    GBU
    Ralf

What do you think? Leave a Comment