Grace Dent: Personally, I'd fire bullying teens from a cannon and relocate the 'feral' kids to Chipping Norton

When I see people with learning difficulties being bullied till they're suicidal, then I want swift justice

Share

To the utter indifference of social nuisances UK-wide, Theresa May has announced changes to Britain's antisocial behaviour policies. Out with the Asbo, in with the Crimbo, the criminal behaviour order. Five individual complaints and you're offski. It's a chirpier, more festive sounding instrument of control. Until yesterday Crimbo was simply a bastardisation of "Christmas", one of those words it's almost worth being a guest on Newsnight just to dangle before Paxman like juicy low-lying pendant fruit and see if the monster swipes.

Theresa May, owing to her silver bob, power wardrobe and naturally fierce bone structure – like myself, even in natural cheerful repose May resembles Boudicca leading the Iceni to revolt – is on a hiding to nothing whenever she speaks about law and order. This is in no way a positive boon for the Home Secretary. May's Asbo shake-ups saw her instantly slagged off as draconian and incompetent, but with a bubbling backlash by those affected by community crime that she's not going far enough. I'm talking about those bullied incessantly for learning difficulties, those affected by that delightful dickhead who always clears his throat on them outside Londis, those affected by smashy-vandal boy, those affected by the clan with the lax bedtime hours who run a Staffy puppy factory.

The Crimbo demands five individual complaints to get a matter like this taken seriously. But what if the victims are scared, disorganised, emotionally broken? Or what if they're bewildered by paperwork?

Here's a wild idea I've just had: how about ONE complaint to the police about criminal behaviour towards the weakest members of society and the matter is taken seriously? Gosh, this makes me sound terribly hardline. Terribly Tory.

Yet the oblique truth is that "law and order" makes shame-faced little right-wingers of most of us good liberals. I stand, broadly speaking, for gay marriage, gay adoption, gay anything you fancy, help-yourself abortion, Levonelle for schoolgirls, drug legalisation and publicly-funded modern art. In fact when I come to power there will be an annual holiday for the public to lie about on their fat behinds listening to Throbbing Gristle's 20 Jazz Funk Greats letting the abstract thoughts of Genesis P-Orridge twist the nation's melon. "If we took a holiday," Madonna once said. "It would be so nice." Properly liberal, I am.

Well liberal until you show me an Asbo teen who's broken into the nursery school and tortured all their rabbits to death. Then I want him fired from a cannon. I was going to type "fired from a cannon into stinging nettles" but I wish nothing to break his fall. Liberal until I see people with Down's syndrome or learning difficulties bullied till they're suicidal. Then I want swift justice.

My personal dismay at May's Crimbo plans is that yet again, there's little mention where these ousted "yobs" are being ousted to. My experience of living amid antisocial behaviour is that tough action turns into little more than a government-sponsored inter-county dickhead-swap. In Carlisle, we'd wave off the family with Shetland ponies and piles of burning matresses in their front garden to Workington, only to see them quickly replaced by a family from Workington with a malnourished sheepdog who suffered equal "issues surrounding living like annoying pillocks".

Also Asbos wash over the heads of many people. My friend's neighbour – a feisty 50- year-old woman – regularly smashes all the windows in the street. She should be on medication but she doesn't take it. She should be an inpatient but she isn't. She is frequently arrested but is always home for bedtime. Hey, send her a letter with Crimbo on it, that'll learn her!

To truly tackle antisocial behaviour takes enormous actions unable to be written on a small piece of paper. We need fairer wealth dispersal, real jobs, real help with skills to get jobs, a social services which isn't creaking at the seams. We need increased public confidence in the CPS, oodles of money chucked at downtrodden communities and not cuts, for God's sake, not cuts. Or alternatively out with the Crimbo, in with the Chimbo. All "feral people" slapped with an order to uproot to Chipping Norton.

Perhaps when Dave, Clarkson and Alex James wake to the smell of next door's burning mattresses, we may we see coherent policies.

It's hardly a crime to call cancer a battle

Jenni Murray's exasperation about the term "fighting cancer" with regard to Robin Gibb is understandable. In non-medical and non-military speak, cancer enters people and behaves like an absolute arsehole until it does its bidding or pisses off. One has little say in the outcome. Less Warhorse, more bucking Bronco.

I empathise with cancer patients who bore of snivel-faced folk by their bedside, chomping their fruit basket, talking of "tremendous fights" or "brave battles". It's hard to be painted as Rocky Balboa or Field Marshal Haig while sitting in a backwards gown, bare arse showing, hair coming out in clumps.

My friend was infuriated by talk like this when she was very ill, but personally I was pleased that people were interacting, not hiding. I'd hate people to become so confused about what's naff, offensive and unsayable around cancer that they use it as an excuse to opt out of visiting at all. The majority of the world aren't trained writers, orators or performers. Put them in a wedding line-up and they'll tell the mother of the bride she "must be very proud" – like 87 guests did before them. Under duress we are awkward, tactless, unimaginative. It's the warm intentions behind the faux pas that matter.

Alas poor Brick, we're bored with you now

My heart went out to creepy sponsored Twitter troll/columnist Samantha Brick this week as she dragged herself into public again to broadcast more odd allegations about her husband, Pascal. He chooses her hairstyle and clothes, apparently, and treats her like a trophy and she bloody loves it, Sam squeaked to the internet sound-effect equivalent of a crisp-packet blowing around Wembley.

Not even a staged shot of Pascal looking like a brooding oddball surrounded by frocks he'd greenlighted sparked the nation's ire. Poor Brick, her time is up. She burned bright and fast. We shall not forget her beauty.

twitter.com/@gracedent

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Mr. Cameron is beginning to earn small victories in Europe

Andrew Grice
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick