It is hard to believe that a suicidal young woman could be issued
with an antisocial behaviour order because her behaviour is deemed
to be attention-seeking. If she makes a further attempt to kill
herself, her despair could become a criminal offence.
A man with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia was given an Asbo
after neighbours complained about him. It’s the ultimate
expression of the unwillingness of our politicians to educate the
public about difference.
It’s all too easy to see the imposition of Asbos on such
people as a sign of the inadequacy of the services that are
supposed to support them. But in fact, short of institutionalising
whole sections of the community, it’s impossible for services
to prevent the symptoms of mental illness or some disabilities from
being visible in public places.
Since the transfer of mental health and learning difficulty
services into the community, we have – mainly through housing
policy – concentrated needy individuals and families into
ever smaller and more unpleasant areas. Now those who live on
noisy, dangerous estates find the situation intolerable, and Asbos
seem the best solution. The real solution must obviously start with
a review of the rules governing how Asbos are issued, and to whom.