A fixation with enforcement is likely to hinder plans to address
antisocial behaviour, says the Local Government Association.
In a report published last week, the LGA said there should be more
long-term funding for prevention schemes and rehabilitation.
Although the study welcomes measures provided by the Antisocial
Behaviour Act 2003 to tackle public order breaches, it warns that
they place an “over-emphasis” on enforcement.
“Enforcement alone may lead to further alienation,” says LGA chair
Sandy Bruce Lockhart. “Prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation
are more likely to create safer and stronger communities.”
The report calls for more long-term investment by councils in
preventive initiatives. “Councils face challenges if they are to
provide these services in a more universal, co-ordinated and
long-term way,” it says.
But campaigners say the report should have looked more closely at
ways to protect children’s rights under antisocial behaviour
Although the report highlights the “poor progress” made in
implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it falls
short of criticising the use of antisocial behaviour orders for
A spokesperson for the Howard League for Penal Reform said:
“Children in particular have borne the brunt of the current Asbo
zeal. Children are being criminalised for behaviour which would not
stand up to our common understanding of what constitutes a
The league wants more resources put into activities for children
that engage them constructively, rather than using the “quick fix
of an Asbo” that isolates and stigmatises them.
“Despite murmurings from various quarters, including the LGA, that
the current big-stick approach to antisocial behaviour may not be
the most appropriate, few are prepared to stand and state the
obvious,” the spokesperson said.
Human rights organisation Liberty also criticised the LGA report
for failing to tackle the issue of curfews for under 16s.
A spokesperson said: “Under antisocial behaviour legislation,
police are given powers to remove any group of young people,
regardless of whether they have committed an antisocial act.
Criminalising young people under 16 in this way is simply not
l Report from www.lga.gov.uk