For many years the law enforcement agencies have been criticised for using ineffective methods when dealing with badly behaved youth. These criticisms have led the Tony Blair government to take an action on the issue, and as a result the Anti-Social Behaviour Orders were introduced. The Anti-Social Behaviour Orders were originally introduced by the Crime and Disorders Act in 1998( Walklate 2007). Later on the Anti-Social Behaviour Orders were supported even further by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act which was passed in 2003 (Knepper, Doak., Shapland 2009) . Anti-Social Behaviour Orders can be explained as a concurrence between the police and the young person who have committed an offence which can be classified as anti-social behaviour. Any behaviour that causes a nuisance or disturbance to the people living in and around a surrounding area can be categorized as anti-social behaviour. Specific examples of anti-social behaviour include offences such as; graffiti, vandalism and causing excessive noise(McEvoy, Newburn2003).
The Anti-Social Behaviour Orders punish the individual who has behaved anti-socially by restricting their behaviour in one form or another. For example an Anti-Social Behaviour Order can prohibit an individual who has behaved anti-socially from returning to a certain area or shop. Therefore it can be stated that these orders are issued hoping that it will prohibit the individual in receipt of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order from committing further anti-social behaviour offences by restricting their behaviours. Anti-Social Behaviour Orders are issued by the magistrates court.( ) The burden of proof for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order to be issued should be beyond reasonable doubt. This means that the claimant has to prove that the defendant who has been arrested had been behaving anti-socially.
One limitation of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders is that they are seen as a solution after an individual commits an act of anti-social behaviour. Therefore Anti-Social Behaviour Orders are designed to punish rather than to prevent anti-social behaviour in the first place. For example statistics show that young children aged between six and nine years old learn to behave anti-socially through imitating teenagers’ behaviours in their community who acts anti-socially. As this is clearly stated in the statistics, rather than waiting for this age group to be influenced by their elders and get issued an ASBO things like after school clubs can be encouraged to prevent those children from behaving anti-socially.
On the other hand in the statistics obtained it is indicated that anti-social behaviour orders are a successful solution in the sense that a teenager with an ASBO stays out of trouble and this reduces the youth crime rate. (Millie2009) This view has also been stated by the resident in areas affected by what is viewed as yobbish and anti-social behaviour. They have reported improvements in their neighbourhood when Anti-Social Behaviour Orders have been issued to young people who have committed acts of anti-social behaviour.
However issuing an Anti-Social Behaviour Order to a teenager who behaves anti-socially leads them to be labelled in their community as a ‘trouble maker’. In some sense this prevents the individual to engage in with their daily life (Home Office 2008). In very few situations the individual who have been issued an Anti-Social Behaviour Order wants to improve their standard of life. In most situations the ASBO seems to have a big and long term impact on the young individuals’ lives. For example according to the survey of youth offending teams issuing an Anti-Social Behaviour Order to the young individual who behaves anti-socially leads them to have mental disorder problems such as depression, suicidal problems and personality disorder. The individual who has given an Anti-Social Behaviour Order goes into depression because they cannot carry on living as they used. On the other hand other some young individuals who behave anti-socially see getting an ASBO as an honour badge. So a young person who has an ASBO is pursued as having a higher rank in their what is so called ‘gang’ by their friends.
When talking about today’s society media plays a big role, and like most of the issues that concern general public, media highly affects people’s views regarding teenagers who are behaving anti-socially( Clarke 2003). This can be linked with the theory of labelling and stereotyping. The news regarding anti-social behaviour is pursued by the media subjectively rather than objectively. These subjective views are then passed onto the public through media organs such news. For example the media puts across the view that most youngsters who behave anti-socially are children who have a working class background. When this view is stated in the media it leads to stereotyping of all the working class youngsters. Pursuing this particular group as ‘trouble makers’ leads them to not being given equal chances in life when compared with youngsters who are not included in this stereotyping. This is where the strain theory comes in (Treadwell 2006).The strain theory suggests that the crime is the result of individuals being blocked in terms of mainstream society from reaching certain goals and under the consequent strain they seek deviant or criminal ways to reach those goals. In a way it would fair to say that, these stereotyping views of the society leads young individuals to commit acts of anti-social behaviour.
Another criticism of the Anti-social Behaviour Order is that these orders have introduced many new criminal offences. More criminal offences mean that young individuals are more likely to commit criminal offences (Squires 2008). However it is noted in the drafting of the Anti-social Behaviour Order Bill that getting only one ASBO issued for an individual does not mean they get a criminal record. This can be scored as a good point for the Anti-social behaviour Order scheme, as criminalising young people just for a minor offence will mean, they will have a bad criminal record all their lives. However if the terms of the Anti-Social Behaviour Order is broken then the individual faces a criminal conviction which can result in with an up to five years of imprisonment.
One of the few positive perceptions towards the Anti-social Behaviour Orders is that they do not cost the government too much. For example if an individual who had committed an act of anti-social behaviour was to be tried and convicted by the courts instead of taking proceedings to issue an Anti-Social Behaviour Order this would cause the government to waste more of their budget on youngsters who are behaving anti-socially.(Knepper 2007) For example after the young individual was sentenced and sent into the prison, there would be additional costs to keep them in the jail such as to provide food for them.
Another strength of the Anti-social Behaviour Orders is that some people see them as a fast and efficient system to resolve anti-social behaviour in the community. On the other hand others believe that Anti-social Behaviour Orders on their own is not enough to prevent a youngster from re-offending. A more effective move towards anti-social behaviour can be taken through multi-agency approach. For example once an individual is issued an Anti-social Behaviour Order they should also be sent to rehabilitation programmes to make sure that they do not re-offend. Along side of this they should be sent to do community work to improve these young people’ perceptions and the way they see the world. Sending these young offenders to do community work will also improve their relationships with other individuals from the community and this might be a more permanent solution than just issuing an Anti-social Behaviour Order.
Although there are some positive sides to the Anti-social Behaviour Orders, it can be concluded there are more negative sides to it. Therefore it would be right to conclude that the scheme of Anti-social Behaviour Orders needs a serious reform, in order to resolve the problem of highly rising anti-social behaviour rate.
Home Office (2008) Anti-Social Behaviour [online] available from http://www.asb.homeoffice.gov.uk/uploadedFiles/Members_site/Documents_and_images/About_ASB_general/EconSocialCostASB_0142.pdf [10 July2010]
Clarke .D (2003) Pro-social and anti-social behaviour .Routledge
Squires P. (2008) ASBO nation: the criminalisation of nuisance The Policy Press .London
Knepper .P (2007) Criminology and social policy Sage London
Millie .A (2009) Anti-Social Behaviour .McGraw-Hill
McEvoy.K, Newburn.T (2003) Criminology, conflict resolution and restorative justice .Palgrave Macmillan
Walklate. S (2007) Understanding criminology: current theoretical debates .McGraw-Hill International
Knepper. P, Doak. J, Shapland .J(2009) Urban crime prevention, surveillance, and restorative justice: effects of social technologies Crc Press London
Treadwell .J (2006) Criminology , Sage London