How effective are ASBO’s in preventing anti – social behaviour amongst the youth in today’s society?
This project will focus upon the issues of anti-social behaviour looking at whether they have been successful, what effect Anti – Social Behaviour Orders have had on the community and examines if there is enough happening to deter the youth culture from anti – social and criminal behaviour towards society. ASBO’s were introduced under section one of the government’s Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and it came into force on April 1st 1999. However, since they were introduced there has been a lot of controversy in whether ASBO’s have actually been effective in deterring and punishing criminal behaviour.
The project will go on to discuss the kind of problems anti-social behaviour causes on the streets today. It defines dispersal orders that only the police or the police community support officers can issue towards groups, what the consequences would be if they disobeyed the law before looking at a number of options that will be there to hand out depending on the circumstances and the crime. This could range from acceptable behaviour agreements (ABA) and acceptable behaviour contracts (ABC) to fixed penalty notices (FPN) and Penalty notice for disorder (PND) as ASBO’s are usually only handed out as a last resort. What agencies are now enforcing against ASB, what possession orders are? In addition, how the role of parents could make a difference if produced with parenting orders to underage minors.
The aim of this project is to investigate the background of ASBO’s and looking at whether they do actually work in stopping anti – social behaviour amongst the youth culture in today’s society.
The hypothesis is that ASBO’s are not beneficial within society.
Discussion of issues
Whenever there are complaints or bad behaviour then theses are the first steps in trying to deter the youths from delinquency.
Police and Police Community Support Officers (PCSO/s) can disperse people or groups from places where they appear to be behaving anti – socially, the removal period is for 24 hours but if they refuse to disperse then the officer can give them an order lasting for six months.
If anyone is under the age of sixteen, the police or PCSO’s are legally obligated to take them to their place of residence (www.connexions-direct.com) however if there then becomes trouble the PCSO’s can subsequently hand out ABC/s or ABA/s.
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Acceptable Behaviour Agreement
An Anti – social behaviour contract (ABC) is a written voluntary agreement between the perpetrator and their local authority, ABC’s are intended to get the individual to acknowledge and accept their anti – social behaviour and the effect it has on society. The ABC contract outlines what the individual agrees not to do and what the penalty of their consequence will be if they do breach their contract. ABC’s and ABA’s can be used within the same age groups as ASBO’s, if they have to be used on children aged under ten then parent intervention may need to come into force like parenting orders and are useful in stopping low levels of ASB. They are informal as well as flexible therefore they are not legally binding and as a result, they can be issued for all types of ASB nevertheless, they would be used in court as evidence against an eviction or possession proceedings. (www.connexions-direct.com)
Fixed Penalty Notices and Penalty Notice for Disorder
Fixed penalty notices and penalty disorders are a one – off penalty issued to people who commit anti – social behaviour. FPN are generally dealt with environmental offences like noise, graffiti, dog fouling, and litter. FPN however comes with a standard fine, which can vary, towards £40 – £80 depending upon the offence, they can be issued by PCSO’s, and local council officers as well as certain other accredited people. They can be issued to any persons over ten years old. Penalty notices for disorder are issued for more serious crimes like misuse of fireworks or being drunk and disorderly PCSO’s and police can also issue these notices. However, Firth (2009) stated that this type of order would be given out to anybody who is sixteen or over and the fine depends on the severity of the crime.
Having looked at the options that seriously considered before ASBO’s are issued, this project will now move on to discuss ASBO’s.
Antisocial Behaviour Order
The ASBO become about due to the growing behavioural problems in today’s youth culture, the official name is anti – social behaviour order. ASBO’s was initially designed to prevent these negative activities and stop specific anti – social behaviours. ASB covers a wide spectrum of problems and offences ranging from street drinking, drunken behaviour, dropping litter, loud music, verbal abuse even hanging around on street corners (Hale 2005). ASBO’s also covers the more serious matters such as hate crime that consists of racist or homophobic abuse, the key determinant in deciding whether particular behaviour is anti-social or not should be the impact of the behaviour towards others. (www.communities.gov.uk)
ASBO’s are compared to the broken window theory outlined by Wilson and Kelling (1982) whereby they claim that if a broken window is left unrepaired then it leaves the building looking uncared for which then attracts the vandals. The theory suggests that in preventing crime it would be ideal to accomplish that with steps like keeping buildings in good repair, painting over graffiti and maintaining clean streets as well as responding effectively to petty street crime. (www.sociology.com)
ASBO’s are a civil order that can only be issued through the courts, this order is strictly made against a person or person’s that have either participated or initiated in anti-social behaviour by causing or likely to cause harassment, intimidation, alarm, distress towards one or more people within the wider community, but not that of the same household (www.crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.org)
The bar charts below show the number of ASBO’s in Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Greater London. (crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk)
Number of anti – social behaviour orders issued to persons aged 10 – 17 year olds at court between April 99 to Dec 2007
The diagram below shows the percentage of children who actually obtain ASBO’s and the percentage that decide to go a different route. (crimereduction.homeoffice.gov.uk)
Number of anti – social behaviour orders issued to persons aged 18+ at court between
April 99 to Dec 2007
The charts are showing that, in the bigger cities of London and Manchester more ASBO’s where issued between 2003 – 2007 than in Cheshire and Merseyside.
Anti – social behaviour is organised into three categories’ street scene, nuisance neighbours, and environmental crime.
The category of street scene ranges from
Anti – social drinking
Marketing of drugs within the streets. (www.homeoffice.gov.uk)
The category of nuisance neighbours
Intimidation and harassment
Rowdy and nuisance behaviour
Animal related problems
Vehicle related nuisance (www.homeoffice.gov.uk)
Over the years, there has been incredible support in helping to combat nuisance neighbours whereas a family would have a possession order issued upon them.
They are orders issued by governed bodies that include local housing authorities, registered housing associations, housing co-operatives and Housing Action Trusts. Private landlords have a wide range of powers to help deal with anti-social behaviour that takes place in or is related to the homes they supply. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 enabled landlords to take immediate action in dealing with anti-social behaviour and protect the community by widening and strengthening housing injunctions. (www.communities.gov.uk)
The category of environmental crime
Criminal damage / Vandalism
Graffiti and fly posting
Litter and waste
This demonstrates that people can easily obtain an ASBO if they defy the law and become a nuisance against society.
Advantages of ASBO’s
In 2004 an unhinged youth was issued an ASBO that was due to run out in 2009, he was told that he could face up to five years in prison if he breached his restriction. However, it was reported that he was the very first person to ever have an ASBO revoked not only did he turn his life around, but the courts decided to lift the order and he got himself a job working as a mentor for other troubled teenagers. His ambition in life is to join the army or become a youth worker so it goes to prove that if you really want to turn your life around this demonstrates its possible, especially now with so much help available. (www.dailymail.co.uk)
ASBO’s are meant to stop the perpetrator from going back to the places where they originally caused the trouble but it can sometimes be impossible if they work or go to school in that particular area. Therefore, there will be limits to what they can do at the times they will be there (www.responsiblecitizen.co.uk).
Costs of ASBO’s
In 2002 the reported cost of obtaining an ASBO averaged £4,000 to £5,000, whereas new studies has shown that the costs of ASBO’s have significantly reduced to costing £2,500 including estimations of staff and legal expenses. Whenever an ASBO is breached or appealed the average cost then rises to a staggering £5,350, but overall the police still think ASBO’s are cost effective compared to prison whereas not taking action against persistent anti – social behaviour has to have the highest cost of all. (www.asb.homeoffice.gov)
Disadvantages of ASBO’s
There has been a lot of criticism aimed towards ASBO’s and their effectiveness as many of those engrossed in the ASBO culture merely see it as a self fulfilling prophecy and consider ASBO’s as a badge of honour. This is however, a serious red flag area whereby some delinquents deliberately go out to accumulate ASBO’s in order to acquire street credibility, and by attainment it is purely seen as proof of standing within their peer groups (www.libdemvoice.org)
The youth culture who see ASBO’s as a badge of honour may not however be too concerned by the stigma of gaining an ASBO and would therefore not care enough for the law in breaking their terms and conditions. However, if they do break their conditions they could be looking at up to two years in prison, everyone over the age of ten can and will be given an ASBO (www.responsiblecitizen.co.uk)
Thugs who threaten violence and carry weapons are receiving ASBO’s and not handed harsher punishments like a prison sentence, carrying a knife or weapon constitutes at least five years in prison whereas giving them an ASBO is unacceptable. It is felt that ASBO’s are not reducing the levels of crime whereby stricter penalties and rehabilitation is what could be needed (www.thefreelibrary.com)
Naming and shaming has been considered when handing out ASBO’s like they do with benefit fraud. However, naming the perpetrators presents the opportunities for their addresses to be exposed possibly leading to vigilante attacks, which would undoubtedly cause a lot more controversy throughout society and would only (www.caslon.com.au)
After looking at the advantages and disadvantages of Asbo’s the project will now move on to looking at the agencies that are now tackling anti – social behaviour.
Agencies tackling Anti – Social Behaviour
There are lots of support from agencies that are working within partnership in trying to tackle and combat ASB effectively, they range from:
Police and Community Support Officers
Crown Prosecution Services
Fire and Rescue Services
Youth Offending Teams
These partnerships also include crime and disorder reduction partnerships, drug team actions and local strategic partnerships demonstrating that many authorities are determined to take a stand against ASB by doing whatever it takes to stop it from taking over the community in which they live and work in (www.asb.homeoffice.gov.uk).
Apart from the above agencies, a parents’ role is to teach their children right from wrong and more importantly respect. However, this is evidently missing within dysfunctional families according to Squires and Stephen (2005). If the youth is under sixteen and breaks the law, then parenting orders could benefit the perpetrators’ from continuing to behave in an unacceptable manner. Parenting orders are imposed by the courts and they are given parenting contracts which enables interaction between themselves and certain support agencies that then sets out the standard of behaviour that is expected of the minor. The parents are required to attend courses, which may also include children attending school. They have to exercise control over their children’s offending behaviour by ensuring that they adhere to their curfew, however non-compliance of the above can lead to a £1000 fine or any sentence that is available for a non – imprisonable offence. (www.direct.gov.uk)
In conclusion, the hypothesis was accepted. Findings show that not all ASBO’s that have been dispersed actually work in stopping a criminal act. Many of the youths act in an appalling manner just to obtain an ASBO for the reason that their friends have one, or they feel that their behaviour even if it is bad is the only thing that they have control over as they could be lacking something either from their home environment or within society itself. Anti–social behaviour can sometimes seem like a minor crime in the courtroom whereas graffiti, vandalism and harassment may seem trivial on a charge sheet, but behind those charges is a community living in fear besieged by reckless out of control minority of thugs. It is very intolerable that people are having to endure this type and level of ASB day in and day out feeling plagued in their own homes and not being able to go out and enjoy the public space within their community (Squires & Stephen 2005). It costs around £36,000 to lock somebody up for a year and prisons are already overcrowded (www.guardian.co.uk) so consequently if the government concentrated more on building and providing more centres were youths could entertain themselves within a controlled environment then many of the offenders would not go off the rails. Hale (2005) claimed that the majority of problems stemmed from boredom and if that could be combated then the chances are it could cause a decline towards Anti-social behaviour overall.