Leading article: The old anti-yob campaign in a new disguise

Share
Related Topics

In a heavily trailed initiative, the Home Secretary will today announce new measures to address the problem of drunken youths who gather in public places. That teenagers below the legal drinking age have little difficulty in obtaining alcohol and can, in their inebriated state, pose a threat to the peace and safety of the law-abiding majority is hardly news. It is one of the chief complaints that go under the general heading of anti-social behaviour. It is a nuisance, sometimes much more than a nuisance – and of course, it is high time that something was done.

In fact, we were under the impression that something was being done. That something was the introduction, with much fanfare, of anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos). And we seem to remember that, at the time, it was precisely such informal gatherings of rowdy young people – around shopping centres, parks and other public places – for whom Asbos were deemed especially suitable. The idea, we had understood, was that police would be able to disperse such gatherings without criminalising the individuals concerned. Only those who subsequently breached the terms of their Asbo would find themselves with a criminal record.

So what is this new initiative all about? It looks remarkably like the old initiative, with the emphasis shifted from the gathering to the drink. If the police deem the offence to be a one-off, the under-18 concerned will be moved on and have his or her alcohol confiscated; a repeat offender may be served – a big new idea, this – with an Asbo. And the offender's parents may be contacted and served with a parenting order or offered advice.

Now it is clearly sensible for the police to have the power to confiscate alcohol which has been bought, or is being drunk, illegally. It also makes sense for officers to contact the parents of juveniles making a nuisance of themselves, whether as the result of drink or not. But surely there are sufficient provisions on the statute book already to allow them to exercise such powers? At a time when the effectiveness of Asbos is being increasingly questioned –because so many are ignored – it also seems perverse to cite Asbos as part of a new solution.

Anti-social behaviour is a blight on many people's lives; it compounds the difficulties experienced by people living in deprived areas. Binge-drinking is a health issue, too. But both are symptoms of a deeper malaise. Unless the lack of affordable activities and entertainment for young people is tackled, cheap alcohol drunk with a gang of mates in the park will seem an attractive option to many.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions