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

McAfee Security Engineer

£42000 - £48000 per annum + Site allowance: Ashdown Group: McAfee EPO Speciali...

English Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Experience...

Higher Level Teaching Assistants in Bradford and West Leeds

£65 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are currently seeking Higher L...

EYP

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Job opportunity for an Early years ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Scottish polls, the clown who saved Iceland and all about oil

John Rentoul
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories