Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Death of the ASBO?

I think Theresa May is second only to Eric Pickles in hitting the ground running. I can't say I agree with all the myriad of initiatives that have emerged from the Home Office, but the level of activity displayed by her and her team is impressive.

Yesterday she signalled the death knell for ASBOs by announcing a review into their operation and effectiveness. The fact that more than half of those who get an ASBO have then gone on to serve custodial sentences should tell us all we need to know. However, her speech was disappointing in one sense in that it seemed to say, well, they haven't worked, national government can't really do anything, it's for local communities to decide what measures are best for them. I can see the logic, but in practical terms whatever a local community or police force do together is inevitably going to cost money which won't be forthcoming.

I suppose it's the logical extension of a localism agenda, to devolve decisions on what to do about anti social behaviour to a local level, but there are resource consequences which have to be recognised.


Grand_Inquisitor said...

Two cheers for Theresa. On the one hand she espouses that localism that is winning Pickles plaudits; on the other hand she has caved into the 'big brother' police-state EU that many in the Home Office seem to desire. The higher eschelons of the Home Office regard civil-liberties and the Nation State as things to be despised.

IanVisits said...

There is something to be said for more local involvement in crime and punishment - and rehabilitation.

We have generally "outsourced" the justice system and most people see criminals as Them and no longer part of Us.

I used to work in a retailer where we would offer the parents of minors caught shoplifting a choice of police/school being notified, or a couple of weekends working in the warehouse.

Most parents happily agreed to this - and afterwards, most of the shoplifters felt they had not just served a punishment, but quite importantly, done something productive with their time.

In addition, the staff learnt more about the motivations that lead people to shoplift.

Too often when a person is sentenced to community service, it is the absolute dregs they get lumbered with - and what could be educational and rehabilitating is actually really unpleasant and seen as merely vindictive.

We should as a society seek to find a route where community service isn't just sweeping streets and the ilk, but actually productive and uplifting.

Otherwise we just end up with bitter people who see no benefit in rejoining the mainstream.

This isn't liberal tree hugging, but deliberate self-interest. The criminal system is extremely expensive, and if my taxes are to be spent on managing criminals, I want it to be spent in a manner that reduces the cost over the long term.

That means more focus on rehabilitation and getting people to feel part of society in general.

Maverick Ways said...

RIP. Another great example of
New Labour Spindow Dressing:

Paul Halsall said...

I have very mixed feelings on this initiative.

On the one hand, much as I detest the government's economic policies, I have approved of its civil liberties agenda.

In so far as ASBOs are "pre-crime" punishments they clearly present a problem for civil liberties.

On the other hand, I actually live on a social housing estate (a very nice one, admittedly), and I think people did approve of them as at least doing something about anti-social behaviour.

What Theresa May seems to be suggesting is simply their abolition. [What "local" approach is she talking about?] And I don't think that that is good enough.

Unknown said...

It should work well alongside the new elected police chiefs. They will be held accountable for antisocial behaviour and will have to have policies to deal with it. You never know the police may well be encouraged to enforce the law if they know something will happen with the louts other than a slap on the wrist. There may be a problem with cost implications but I would expect these new chiefs could easily adjust budgets if they want to be re elected. It may mean also a rise in the police council tax, but I doubt tax payers would object as the money would be spent on tackling antisocial behaviour.

We need accountability back in the shires, city and town halls where policy should be made and people can have a greater say. But also so the people making the decisions fear for their positions if they don’t pursue policies with which the voters could agree with.

Just a footnote, America has elected public prosecutors shouldn’t that be worth considering here. Also wouldn’t confirmation hearings for all judges and the possibility to review judges over a certain amount of years. I know that they are supposedly independent of state and government but they seem to be acting way beyond applying the law and are actually deciding what to enforce and deliberately implementing the law against what parliament, and therefore the public requires (and HM The Queen?). They may not like it but they are in the end just public servants and they seem to need reminding of that.

Penfold said...

The ASBO was NuLab populism and a band aid to the more serious problems of society.

Scary Biscuits said...

Theresa May is an old communist, a Conservative in name only who owes her position to working so hard for Cameron during the failed election campaign. Cameron has appointed her for the same reason Blair used appointments, not because he thought they would be good at the job but because they served some political purpose.

The fact that May has commissioned a review rather than made a decision on ASBOs proves my point: she doesn't know what to do and will just be led by her officials. It's as if the election never happend.

Dr Evil said...

Unfortunately a good thrashing with a cane will contravene their human grights and they must not on any account go to jail. Unless harsh measures are used these feral youths will take no notice.

Tapestry said...

whips are cheap enough

Anonymous said...

I am not sure anti social behaviour is something the national government can do much about. Don't individuals have to take some responsibility?

Passing a law against sin will not make sin disappear.

National government can improve education and to some extent housing and social conditions, but the miserable housing estates these delinquents come from have been created by social engineers, architects and planners outside of government.

Where politics comes in I suppose is the concept of 'permissiveness' pioneered by Roy Jenkins. We simply accept delinquent behaviour all too readily.

kris said...

Iain, by your logic, that those busted for theft go on to thieve again shows the Theft Acts are a failure.

ASBOs do give relief to beleagured good people on rough estates.

She did fail as she did not propose what to put in its place - other than the good people of the Estate "standing up" and providing a "local solution".

Doesn't she think people have tried that? That the ASBO is granted only as a last resort?


Unknown said...

Can I be the first person to say that as "myriad" is actually a number (ten thousand) then the term is "myriad initiatives" not a "myriad of..."


DespairingLiberal said...

The problem is that there isn't a useful alternative. The net result of this is that some areas will go back to being repeatedly plagued by serial, manic, obsessively anti-social people and there will be absolutely no viable recourse for those affected. Endless arrests, police visits, interspersed with fines from magistrates (usually not paid) do nothing to such people.

Asbo's were not perfect, but they were better than nothing.

I suspect what really lies behind this is that some middle class people were given them for anti-social conduct towards their neighbours and of course, we simply cannot have a situation where perfectly law-abiding Tory voters who wish to persecute their neighbours end up with an Asbo.

bewick said...

Don't agree with some posters. There ARE alternatives to ASBOs and the like which certainly seemed effective a century or so ago - birching? And there is an ornamental ( actually look usable) set of stocks in a nearby market town. Just thinking. Both would sure remove street "cred".
And yes before you ask I would also bring back caning in schools. Certainly provided a mindset which helped me keep in line.