Friday, August 11, 2006

Anti-Social Behaviour.

Local residents will know that the East Dulwich Estate is due to undergo major regeneration over the course of the next four years. This regeneration will be hugely welcome as it may help to deal with some of the social problems which have arisen on the Estate due to a lack of funding over many years.
One real problem at the moment is the anti-social behaviour of a group of youths on the Estate who are all subject to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders ('ASBOs'). Despite the fact that the youths are subject to the ASBOs with clear terms about what they are allowed to do and where they are allowed to go on the Estate I have received numerous complaints from residents that the ASBOs are being breached on a regular basis - and nothing is being done to take enforcement action. Part of the problem is that only a few residents know about the ASBOs or have any idea what the terms of the orders are.
During the course of the local elections the Labour Party in Southwark complained on many occasions that the LibDem administration running Southwark Council was 'soft on crime', and in particular failed to use all of the powers which are available to tackle anti-social behaviour. During a visit to Southwark in January the Prime Minister called on Southwark's LibDems to use the powers the government had given and in particular, to 'name and shame' those who were subject to ASBOs. The phrase 'name and shame' throws up all sorts of negative connotations about stigmatising young people, but what it really means is identifying to the local community the names of those who are subject to ASBOs and what the terms of their ASBOs are.
Each ASBO is different - and is aimed at tackling the the particular behaviour or problems which the recipient has been causing. In order to effectively enforce any ASBO I believe that the community has to know what the terms of the orders are - so that they can act as the eyes and ears for the authorities who ultimately should be enforcing the orders. Home Office guidance and the Courts support identification of those subject to ASBOs.
If the ASBOs against the youths on the East Dulwich Estate are to mean anything the local community must know about them and be able to work with the local neighbourhood Police Team and community wardens to enforce them. It is time for Southwark's LibDem/Tory coalition to wake up to the demands of the community and 'name and shame' those who are subject to ASBOs. If they do not I believe that the problems of anti-social and criminal behaviour on Southwark's estates will not really improve.


Lou Bartholomew said...

I don't understand - if the residents on the estate are complaining to you about the ASBO recipients, why aren't you reporting them to the police or whoever's in charge? Or (even easier)advising the residents to report them?

Surely the residents don't need to know the terms of the ASBO in order to make a complaint if they are upset or concerned about the behaviour.

I know there's a big argument for naming and shaming and I haven't entirely made up my own mind, but your arguments don't really make any sense to me. I would just advise your residents to make the complaint and then the police (or whoever it is) will see that there is an ASBO and will act accordingly.

Some ASBOs are silly though and I've read about ones that ban people from saying certain words - I hope you'd agree that becoming a criminal for simply speaking is a little extreme!

Anonymous said...

I also don't understand why, if residents are complaining that the ASBOs are being breached, that the people aren't arrested.
I live on the beautiful North Yorkshire coast but the area I live in has a problem with anti-social behaviour.

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