Why Has Anti-Social Behaviour Been a Key Concern of Post-1997 Governments and Evaluate the Initiatives That Have Been Put Forward to Tackle the Problem?

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  • Topic: Anti-Social Behaviour Order, Crime, Criminology
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  • Published : April 5, 2013
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Why has anti-social behaviour been a key concern of post-1997 governments and evaluate the initiatives that have been put forward to tackle the problem? Since 1997, the Labour party have increasingly emphasized the need to tackle the widespread problem of anti-social behaviour (ASB) with many legislations and a variety of initiatives to succeed this. This assignment will define the term anti-social behaviour and explore the rationale for making this a key concern, with the influence of Broken Windows Thesis. It will then discuss the key legislations created to deal with this problem and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the two of the main initiatives deployed to tackle ASB, Dispersal Orders and Antisocial Behaviour Orders. Current government proposals to tackle ASB will also be discussed to analyse the nature of the problem we have in England and Wales. Anti-social behaviour has been defined in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 as "behaviour likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress to members of the public not of the same household as the perpetrator"(Crime and Disoder Act, 1998, Section 1a).It is difficult to simply define ASB due to people’s differing perceptions however the main forms of ASB includes a variety of behaviours such as nuisance or inconsiderate neighbours, minor violence, intimidating and threatening behaviour, racial abuse, hoax calls and street drinking (Millie et al; 2005). ASB is fuelled by broader problems of unemployment, social exclusion and poverty and its effects can reduce the quality of life through fear of crime in some areas but the impacts are most destructive in those communities that are already vulnerable to crime (Wood, 2004). The 2003/04 British Crime Survey showed that 34% of respondents who reside in inner city areas thought levels of ASB were high in their area (Millie et al;2005) and that since the introduction of ASBOS (these will be discussed further into the essay) to September 2005, 7,356 of these orders have been imposed (Newburn,2007). The 1997 elections saw the Labour Party in government office with Tony Blair coining the phrase ‘tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’ to signify the party’s ‘balanced’ approach to crime which became to be known as the ‘anti-social behaviour agenda’. This agenda was perceived as a ‘broad-based’ cultural response for the social problem of prevailing ASB, moral decline and absence of respect in society (Millie, 2009). The rationale in tackling ASB can be explained in two main ways. One common view suggests that the contemporary problems of ASB “reflect the broad cultural shifts that Britain has undergone over the past 50 years,”(Millie et al, 2005;3). This culture change includes elements such as absence of sense of community and social developments such as the increasing use of illegal drugs and binge drinking. Technology could also be a part of this culture change for example, individuals being able to message anonymously (through services such as Blackberry Messenger), something which was unavailable before. These contribute to the decline in moral and behaviour standards, lack of respect for authority and family values to a point in which action by policy makers was necessary (Jacobson, Millie and Hough;2005). The impact of ASB on the quality of life is a recurring theme in any discussion with ASB. Another view is that the occurrence of ASB can have a serious impact on the quality of life for those who are affected by it. It makes people unhappy, causes distress and generate a high fear of crime and it can also indirectly disrupt “local businesses, community life and public transport services,” (Mugo, 2009;16). The ‘Broken Windows’ rationale highlights a correlation between prevailing ASB and crime. This theory was originally published as an article in 1982 in the magazine ‘Atlantic Monthly’ by Wilson and Kelling who make many references to an experiment conducted by psychologist Philip Zimbardo .In his experiment, Zimbardo...
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