Asbos encourage criminality, argues Manchester police officer

A police commander argues that Asbos fail to prevent further crime and antisocial behaviour in a book published today by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

In the book, chief superintendent Neil Wain of Greater Manchester Police suggests that Asbos’ conditions encourage, rather than discourage, criminal behaviour.

Wain claims that Asbo conditions, such as the name-and-shame leaflets, endanger offenders by turning them into community scapegoats. He believes that offenders are not given sufficient support and conditions stop individuals gaining help from their families.

“As a serving police officer I have experience of the use of these orders and over time I have become concerned about their increased use, their long-term effects and the conditions imposed under them,” said Wain. “One of my concerns is the possibility that Asbos may lead to a longer criminal career.”

The book, The ASBO – Wrong Turning Dead End, also presents the views of Asbo offenders. Wain explored the Asbos’ effects for his Masters in applied criminology at Cambridge University.

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Many individuals receiving orders, particularly children, are confused by the variety of conditions that can be attached to an Asbo. These can cover anything from avoiding groups of three or more people to saying certain words in public. As a result, breaches are common and many end up in prison, where the chances of reoffending on release increase dramatically.”

Community Care will be running an article by Wain in the 18 October issue. 

More information
Howard League for Penal Reform
Essential Information on Youth Justice

Related Item
Sentencing Advisory Panel: halve maximum Asbo jail term

Contact the author
Caroline Lovell


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