Ryeview – October 2004

Take care not to rush down ASBO rabbit hole

John Clark writes…

First published: October 2004 – Gazette & Herald

Being caned at school was a medal to be worn with pride. If ‘street cred’ had existed it would have received a boost. Ties were worn thin and long – the opposite of the authority view. Doing the opposite and being proud of the punishment still applies today.

Are not ASBO’s in danger of being worn with pride? In time they may be used by the establishment to show they were rebellious when young. In forty years time a quote comes from J. Bloggs BSc MA. JP ASBO.

Before Ryedale rushes down the ASBO route ought we not to know; what are they? Have they been successful elsewhere? Are they proportionate? Do they come up to the high English standard of justice? Do they work? With these answers we can decide.

Our Prime Minister has said nationwide there hasn’t been enough ASBO’s issued (2,455 in 5 years). With the answers to the above Ryedale could issue lots of ASBO’s. Without answers to the above ASBO’s would be on a ‘Trust me I’m Tony’ basis. Now, we have tried that before with questionable results.

The analysis of the 2455 could tell us if ASBO’s work in the longer term. i.e. Do the recipients re-offend? Is it more effective than an equal number of miscreants that haven’t been ASBOed. Does the issuing of an ASBO increase the likelihood of the behaviour being committed where the ASBO doesn’t apply. How is Anti Social Behaviour legally defined. It appears to be a Lewis Carol creation. Anti-social behaviour is ‘What the people of Ryedale perceive as anti-social.’ On this basis I will propose a starting list for Ryedale. Some will gain support others will not. Presumably those that are supported will result in ASBO’s being issued in appropriate numbers.

  • Outside lights that shine into neighbour’s gardens and the road. Not to mention the light pollution
  • Some people need 4×4’s. In towns? On the school run? Doing ‘Green Tourism’ in a 4×4 is unbelievable and well worthy of an ASBO
  • Lots per year of overseas climate-destroying flights with untaxed fuel. Those flying to environmental conferences definitely warrant an ASBO.
  • Of course an ASBO would be issued instantly to those who call for zero tolerance and then complain about speed cameras.
  • Another group of candidates in Ryedale would be those who are anti-social in their behaviour of doing loop the loop in small aircraft. Delivery of an ASBO may be tricky – but the authorities should try.

On this basis I’m sure I feature on other peoples list. Probably more than they do on mine. I have annoyed a lot of people, I have annoyed them again. Why have I not got an ASBO? I have worked hard for it. Some people reading this article may well think that this and other articles deserve an ASBO. I wasn’t caned at school – surely I deserve an ASBO.

I am yet to be convinced that ASBO’s are not a way of getting around the stringent rigour of the law. Their appears to be a much lower burden of proof for an ASBO than a criminal offence. However it is the next stage that is my main concern. If someone breaks an ASBO they have committed a criminal offence. As a society we are now locking people up without trial and accepting evidence obtained from torture albeit the torture must be non-British torture.

The law slows things down and often means ‘They get away with it’ I also realise that ASBO’s are much smaller than ‘torture’ or ‘locking up’ without trial. I am however concerned that all these things are OK as long as they are applied to other people.

My problem is one of balance. It is everyone’s responsibility to work towards reducing the problem of low level crime. Much of this crime has been able to slip through the net. On the other hand imprisoning even more people at vast expense because they have broken an ASBO is costly and ineffective. It gives the impression of setting people up to fail. I still need convincing that building more prisons to house ever more people is the route forward. If prison works why are they not becoming empty? Maybe Ryedale would benefit from a bit more analysis and thought before it rushes down the ASBO road. It could be more effective and certainly cheaper.

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