I 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?