Anti-Social Behaviour(ASB) doesn’t sound that bad, does it, sort of “not quite polite” or “not very nice”. It doesn’t sound criminal, indeed some of it is not, or like a real crime, and what’s wrong with going out and having a few on a Saturday night, or playing music a bit loud? But we know that ASB can and does wreck lives – tragic though it is the recent case of suicide of a Leicestershire woman and her daughter fortunately is a rare and extreme example, but there are thousands of others whose lives are made hell by the actions of others .
The point about ASB is that it is the thin end of the wedge – fundamentally its a lack of respect for oneself, other people and property. Without these core values society gradually disintegrates – criminality becomes more acceptable, normal even.
Is enough done to tackle ASB? In the Leicestershire case the victims made 33 calls for help – something wasn’t working. Turning a blind eye, not taking anti-social behaviour seriously, not trying to instill a sense of respect and decency in offenders is a short cut to disaster – both for the victims of the behaviour and for the exponents: if they are not challenged how do they know it is wrong? If they have alcohol or drug dependencies how can they get out of them? If they have mental health issues what support do they get? We need to do more to tackle ASB – and we need to treat the causes, not just the symptoms.
My policy on ASB has a series of practical measures designed to stop the rot. Remove some of the causes – toughen up on underage access to alcohol, stop street drinking; provide more support to vulnerable people; give youths something worthwhile and positive to do; improve community policing.
But there is also a very necessary hard edge. We have to reverse the contempt that some show for the police, the courts and the sanctions they are given. Around a quarter of community service orders were not completed and 55% flouted the terms of their tagging conditions. £60m of fines were written off. We need zero tolerance for those who flout their non custodial sentences. If you have a tagging order and a curfew you WILL comply with it. If you have a community sentence you WILL complete it. If you do not the consequences should be swift and severe.
Download and read some more detailed views on ASB. I would welcome your comments.