Editorial Comment: Asbos mean we’re failing

In an uncertain world there is, in a perverse kind of way, something deeply reassuring about Louise Casey. It is that, no matter how the wind blows against her, the government Respect enforcer’s message remains constant: antisocial behaviour orders are good and social care professionals, youth offending team workers and everybody else should proclaim their virtues.

She was at it again this week, dismissing the Youth Justice Board’s scathing report on Asbos and wondering why youth offending teams hide their success stories like some “dirty little secret”.

What seems to have escaped her notice is that few, if any, YOT practitioners are shy of success. But from their point of view, Asbos are inevitably a sign of failure, not of success. They should be the nuclear option, to be deployed when all hope of prevention has run out. In Scotland, where the government has turned up the heat on local authorities reluctant to use Asbos, visitors to Community Care Live in Edinburgh last week were as sceptical as ever. For many of them, restorative justice was a better answer.

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