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ASBO nation

ASBO nation: The criminalisation of nuisance

Edited by Peter Squires
Copyright Date: 2008
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  • Book Info
    ASBO nation
    Book Description:

    Anti-social behaviour (ASB) has been a major preoccupation of New Labour's project of social and political renewal, with ASBOs a controversial addition to crime and disorder management powers. Thought by some to be a dangerous extension of the power to criminalise, by others as a vital dimension of local governance, there remains a concerning lack of evidence as to whether or not they compound social exclusion. This collection, from an impressive panel of contributors, brings together opinion, commentary, research evidence, professional guidance, debate and critique in order to understand the phenomenon of anti-social behaviour. It considers the earliest available evidence in order to evaluate the Government's ASB strategy, debates contrasting definitions of anti-social behaviour and examines policy and practice issues affected by it. Contributors ask what the recent history of ASB governance tells us about how the issue will develop to shape public and social policies in the years to come. Reflecting the perspectives of practitioners, victims and perpetrators, the book should become the standard text in the field.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-351-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of figures and tables
    (pp. v-v)
  4. List of contributors
    (pp. vi-viii)
  5. Introduction: why ‘anti-social behaviour’? Debating ASBOs
    (pp. 1-34)
    Peter Squires

    The original ambition for this collection of articles about the antisocial behaviour phenomenon in the UK had been to capture, in a single volume, a wide range of positions that one might take up in respect of the ‘anti–social behaviour question’. The discussions were to address the first emergence of the issue, the differing interpretations of anti–social behaviour (ASB) and contrasting reactions to it. Further chapters were to explore the attempts to address it by both policy makers and professional practitioners. A selection of the emerging research evidence about ASB and the impact of research findings on policy...

  6. Part One: Managing anti-social behaviour:: priorities and approaches

    • ONE Why tackle anti-social behaviour?
      (pp. 37-56)
      Jessica Jacobson, Andrew Millie and Mike Hough

      The question addressed by this chapter may seem naive. For many, especially those who advocate firm action against anti-social behaviour (ASB), it is self-evident that the central and local state should be engaged as vigorously as possible in efforts to crack down on antisocial behaviour. However, governments vary over place and time in their enthusiasm for doing so (cf Burney, 2005), and it is reasonable to ask why they should take on this responsibility, and why they should do so now.

      The government’s ‘Respect’ website¹ provides a succinct answer: ‘Anti-social behaviour ruins lives. It doesn’t just make life unpleasant; it...

    • TWO Resilent Fabians? Anti-social behaviour and community safety work in Wales
      (pp. 57-72)
      Adam Edwards and Gordon Hughes

      Central to the public debate opened up by the contemporary sensitivity to, and seeming obsession with, anti-social behaviour among politicians, policy makers, the media and, in turn, growing numbers of the population, is why this ‘new’ social problem of antisocial behaviour (but see Ferri, 1917) has achieved such a widespread salience in the popular imagination in the last decade. Few can have failed to notice the incessant chatter about, panic over and clamour for ‘tough’ solutions to a growing array of potentially dangerous ‘anti-social outcasts’, arguably outstripping longer-established concerns over crime per se. The contemporary crusade against the anti-social in...

    • THREE Towards a balanced and practical approach to anti-social behaviour management
      (pp. 73-86)
      Gillian Mayfield and Andy Mills

      This chapter approaches the issue of tackling anti-social behaviour from the perspective of practitioners and policy makers operating at a local level. It focuses on three aspects:

      practice and policy as applied in one local authority area (Leeds, the second-largest English local authority);

      the key issues for practitioners around the country (as identified by research undertaken by the National Community Safety Network); and

      new moves to address the causes, as well as the symptoms, of antisocial behaviour (the government’s Respect Agenda and the Positive Approaches group).

      The first section examines the strategic approach to anti-social behaviour (the...

    • FOUR Lost in translation: interpreting and implementing anti-social behaviour policies
      (pp. 87-100)
      Roger Matthews and Daniel Briggs

      Tackling anti-social behaviour has, over the last decade, become a government priority. The establishment of the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit in the Home Office in 2003 and, more recently, the formation of the Respect Task Force signal the strategic shift in official policy on law and order. As the officially recorded crime rate continues to drop there has been no let-up in government pressure to maintain ‘law and order’, with the passing of a number of pieces of legislation designed to control the range of activities that have become identified as anti-social behaviour.

      In this process, there has been a shift...

  7. Part Two: Anti-social behaviour management:: emerging issues

    • FIVE Governing through localism, contract and community: evidence from anti-social behaviour strategies in Scotland
      (pp. 103-116)
      Rionach Casey and John Flint

      The Scottish Executive’s anti-social behaviour strategy is primarily being delivered at the local authority level, with a particular emphasis on the worst-affected neighbourhoods (Scottish Executive, 2003). The 2004 Anti-social Behaviour (Scotland) Act required each local authority and police chief constable to prepare and implement an anti-social behaviour strategy within their area, supported by additional Scottish Executive funding.

      This chapter explores how forms of accountability, partnership and contract play out within anti-social behaviour strategies. Two key dimensions are examined: the dual and simultaneous processes of centralisation and localism within governance frameworks; and the contested concepts of citizenship and responsibility for governing...

    • SIX Anti-social behaviour and minority ethnic populations
      (pp. 117-134)
      David Prior and Basia Spalek

      Criminal justice issues in relation to ‘race’ and ethnicity have generated substantial research and policy interest. The experiences of minority ethnic groups as offenders/suspects have been examined and direct, indirect and institutional forms of racism have been explored, particularly in relation to police stop-and-search patterns, court processes (including sentencing) and custody. At the same time, substantial research has been generated in relation to minority ethnic groups and victimisation, in particular their experiences of racist crime. In contrast, the specific issue of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and minority ethnic populations has not attracted much research attention, perhaps due to the traditional focus...

    • SEVEN The ASBO and the shift to punishment
      (pp. 135-148)
      Elizabeth Burney

      New Labour’s ‘tough on crime’ mantra heralded the introduction of a range of criminal justice policies intended to turn this into a reality, a tendency that has brought new instruments of punishment and control every year since 1997. The earliest and still the most controversial was the introduction of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act. The measure immediately attracted criticism for its legal form and for its potentially punitive reach. It stands at one end of a punitive spectrum that ranges through to a huge increase in imprisonment and indeterminate sentences that occurred under...

    • EIGHT A probation officer’s story
      (pp. 149-158)
      Mike Guilfoyle

      When I ‘stumbled’ across John in the Probation Office waiting room with his outreach worker, I remembered thinking, against a tight deadline, how I might have approached a considered assessment of this client. An earlier assessment had concluded that:

      It is clear from John’s complex history over the last 15 years that he is a vulnerable individual who appears to have been as much a victim of his challenging behaviour as a victimiser of others. He is highly likely to come into contact with the Criminal Justice System in the future. It is also in my opinion [sic] clear that...

  8. Part Three: Anti-social behaviour case studies:: particular social groups affected by anti-social behaviour policies

    • NINE Rationalising family intervention projects
      (pp. 161-178)
      Sadie Parr and Judy Nixon

      As part of New Labour’s drive to tackle anti-social behaviour, in January 2006 the government launched a ‘new approach to the most challenging families’ involving a national roll-out of 53 ‘Family Intervention Projects’ (FIPs) (Respect Task Force, 2006a). This latest anti-social behaviour policy initiative, more commonly (and rather unhelpfully) referred to by the media as ‘sin bins’, provides families who are homeless or at risk of eviction (usually from social housing) as a result of anti-social behaviour with intensive support to address their often multiple and complex needs (Dillane et al, 2001; Jones et al, 2005, 2006; Nixon et...

    • TEN Street life, neighbourhood policing and ‘the community’
      (pp. 179-202)
      Stephen Moore

      Although street-life people (defined later) may not, at first sight, appear to be a major issue when discussing anti-social behaviour in a national context, in fact the public’s response to them provides a number of interesting insights into the process by which certain groups come to be viewed as a threat and their consequent treatment by the wider community. The theoretical insights gained here can equally be applied to understanding the treatment of other groups, such as young people, new migrants and Travellers.

      In this chapter I aim to discuss the mechanisms by which certain groups become increasinglyvisibleas...

    • ELEVEN Room for resistance? Parenting Orders, disciplinary power and the production of ‘the bad parent’
      (pp. 203-222)
      Amanda Holt

      Since their inception in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, Parenting Orders have provided New Labour with another tool with which to fight its battle against crime and anti-social behaviour. However, a number of issues and concerns surrounding the use of Parenting Orders have been raised. These have included: their effectiveness (including the quality of this evidence base) (see Holdaway et al, 2001; Ghate and Ramella, 2002), their likely negative psychosocial effects on parents, including issues of stigmatisation and blame (see Bowers, 2002) and concerns about the way that they act to provide for welfare needs through the courts (see...

    • TWELVE Cameras, cops and contracts: what anti-social behaviour management feels like to young people
      (pp. 223-238)
      Carlie Goldsmith

      The Hillside Estate is a geographically isolated area of social housing in the south of England. Like many similar areas throughout the country, it has been subject to the combination of situational and social crime prevention measures used to tackle crime and ‘anti-social behaviour’ since long before 1998. Yet how these various strategies, designed to penetrate neighbourhoods in order to establish ‘safer communities’, have impacted upon young people in particular has been the key question facing the three–year ethnographic project on which this chapter is based.

      What follows will be an introduction to some of the tensions and contradictions...

    • THIRTEEN ASBO youth: rhetoric and realities
      (pp. 239-256)
      Brian McIntosh

      Under New Labour, the problem of anti-social behaviour (ASB) has become, and continues to be, a central policy issue. The introduction of a raft of new legislation to deal with this social problem has seen the creation of a variety of behaviour regulation instruments ranging from night curfews to the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). However, alongside these new sanctions, one target group of such interventions is distinctly familiar: troublesomeyoung people. Within the current political climate, youths identified as anti-social currently wear the mantle of society’s contemporary folk devils. However, despite such symbolic prominence, what is striking is the near-total...

    • FOURTEEN ‘Binge drinking’, anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related disorder: examining the 2003 Licensing Act
      (pp. 257-272)
      Paul Norris and Derek Williams

      In this chapter, we locate the patterns of behaviour now routinely labelled as ‘binge drinking’ within spatial, economic and cultural changes associated with the growth of the night-time economy of British cities and towns since 1987 (see Taylor, 1999; Hobbs et al, 2000; Hadfield, 2006). We also explore recent policy interventions in respect of licensing hours, regulation and ‘liberalisation’. Such changes are, in part, facilitated by shifts in the governance of cities, and, in part, insofar as they are deemed to create ‘problems’, call forth change, particularly in policing and surveillance of urban spaces.

      We argue here that a failure...

    • FIFTEEN The criminalisation of intoxication
      (pp. 273-288)
      Fiona Measham and Karenza Moore

      At the heart of British drug policy lies a prohibitionist stance that prioritises the relationship between drugs and crime, resulting in both increased medicalisation based on outdated notions of addiction and compulsion, and increased criminalisation dominated by ‘war on drugs’ and ‘law and order’ discourses. Medicalisation through the potentially compassionate treatment of problem users is based on an exaggeration of the drugs–crime relationship that is used to justify coercion into abstinence-oriented treatment.

      However, the majority of young adult drinkers and drug takers fit neither the medical model of addiction nor the discourses of crime and compulsion. This chapter argues...

    • SIXTEEN ASBOs and working women: a new revolving door?
      (pp. 289-304)
      Jo Phoenix

      The casual observer would be forgiven for assuming that the regulation of prostitution in the UK has changed dramatically in the last decade or so. In 1999, the Department of Health and the Home Office issued new guidelines for how young people in prostitution were to be dealt with – guidelines that stressed diverting young people away from the criminal justice system and into statutory and voluntary welfare agencies, and punishing adults who commercially sexually exploit anyone under the age of 18 years. New statutes have been put in place to deal with facilitating or encouraging child prostitution and human trafficking...

  9. Part Four: Anti-ASBO:: criticising the ASBO industry

    • SEVENTEEN ‘ASBOmania’
      (pp. 307-318)
      Shami Chakrabarti and Jago Russell

      Tony Blair’s meteoric career is well documented. His most significant brief before ascending to the leadership of his party, and then the country, was that of Home Secretary Michael Howard’s shadow. It was then that the famous ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ slogan was first coined. It was then that Mr Blair began developing one of the most significant elements of his phenomenal political success.

      New Labour’s belief in social justice (as greater equality in opportunities and outcomes is now so often described) would no longer be a bar to aggressive law and order policy. Quite...

    • EIGHTEEN The responsibility of respecting justice: an open challenge to Tony Blair’s successors
      (pp. 319-336)
      Dawn E. Stephen

      Writing this chapter in the week Tony Blair finally announced his resignation as prime minister, it seems appropriate to reflect upon this vital question posed by his immediate successor, not least in respect of the concluding note of humility in Blair’s resignation speech, in which he offered his apologies ‘for the times I have fallen short’ (Blair,2007). It is to one of the key areas where his stewardship arguably ‘fell short’ that this chapter will turn, for Brown’s question cannot be answered without looking at the society Britain has become. The imperative to make this assessment is spurred by the...

    • NINETEEN Asocial not anti-social: the ‘Respect Agenda’ and the ‘therapeutic me’
      (pp. 337-358)
      Stuart Waiton

      The promotion of respect in society, like the concern about anti-social behaviour, engages with issues that on the one hand are relatively small or insignificant – dropping litter or not saying ‘thank you’, for example. And yet on the other hand these issues are often felt to be significant both in themselves and also through their association with major social problems such as the ‘breakdown of communities’. The ‘ASBO agenda’ has been criticised for its authoritarian dynamic – especially by those on the left. However, even for critics there appears to be an uncertainty about the nature of behaviour today and a...

    • TWENTY Conclusion: the future of anti-social behaviour?
      (pp. 359-372)
      Peter Squires

      Anti-social behaviour has a past, even, as we have argued, a ‘secret history’ (Squires and Stephen, 2005), but does it have a future beyond the smoke-and-mirrors symbolism alluded to above? Is our recent and relatively sudden adoption of the language of anti-social behaviour (ASB) a temporary aberration, or does it imply something about the particular preoccupations of the British regarding the behaviour of (in particular) lower-class youth? Has ‘law and order’ and ASB management, above all, become our ‘comfort blanket’ in the face of the discomforting social changes of late-modern globalisation? In other words, has antisocial behaviour become the ‘signal...

  10. Index
    (pp. 373-383)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 384-384)