The ASBO, Anti-Social Behaviour Order was brought in by Tony Blair in 1998 and was used to tackle the problem of youth related crime. For the most part it was successful and reduced the amount of anti-social behaviour across the country. Yet in 2015, the new Conservative government chose to start plans to replace the ASBOs with a series of Injunctions and Orders due to the reduced amount of reports. Recent figures show that anti-social behaviour reports are on the rise again, the offences can be seen as a gateway to committing more serious crimes. With this rise, actions surely need to be taken, so what countries have the best options to sort out this huge problem?
France recently added more police officers to deal with the rise in anti-social behaviour in certain high crime areas of the country. While it would be a good idea for the UK, training the officers on an already under-funded police force would mean a strained force that is stretched beyond its capabilities and cuts would have to be made. Recruiting and training a police officer already costs nearly £13,000 each, drastically eating into the £7.5 billion-dollar budget of the police force. While many people would want to see this come into effect and would go a long way in tackling anti-social behaviour, this would be unlikely to work in the UK, purely because of the cost.
Italy has introduced many preventative methods to tackle youth crime, such as in the docklands area of Darsena, south Milan, They introduced bans on certain objects last year in an attempt to tackle anti-social behaviour from both tourists and local residents. It was prohibited over the summer of 2017 to “hold, carry, leave on the ground, dispose of, or receive any kind of glass bottles or containers, cans or selfie sticks.” It also bands what it calls the ‘moving trade’, such as street food. While littering isn’t the most pressing of issues in the UK, it is still something that needs to be sorted out, especially in street market areas.
Rome chose to ban sales of alcohol late at night. A decision which bars and other businesses have claimed infringes on their rights. Once again, a good idea but would never work in the UK. Bars and clubs are worth too much to the economy, especially in the big cities so politicians will be wary of implementing this rule. The outrage from the general public would surely recreate the famous ban of alcohol in the aftermath of the first World War. Not only was the economy greatly affected and general behaviour turned for the worst and the prohibition ended just 12 years later.
Alcohol consumption by people in the UK is infamous across the globe and is becoming a rising problem in young people aged below 16. A 2013 study from mentoruk.org found that 47% of youth crime is committed under the influence of alcohol and according to new findings from the Millennium Cohort Study, almost half the children said they had tried more than a few sips of alcohol by age 14. This is more than triple the amount from just a couple of years previously.
Spain has increased the strength of its existing laws and sentences in recent years to crack down on youth related crime.
Although this is not specific to anti-social behaviour, tougher laws could be a way to go. Young people, between the ages of 16-24 were the most likely to get an ASBO and increasing the sentences for this age group would more than likely reduce the amount of anti-social behaviour committed in the UK. The current system in the UK is very lenient, such as Crime and Behaviour Orders, which would not intimidate ‘fearless’ young people, whereas tougher sentences like supervised freedom would go a long way to discourage people from being anti-social and causing distress to others.
In a northwest town of Bremen in Germany, youth gangs commit almost half of all police-reported violent offences. They have started to focus on preventing and not punishing youth related crime. German courts are more likely to sentence under 21s under juvenile law, which means they can be educated and therefore less likely to recommit a crime. According to government statistics, 42.2% of young people in the UK reoffend, nearly twice the number of adults. Youth prison population in Germany has dropped 20% since 2005 as a result of courts giving prison sentences as a last resort.
By ensuring that young people who have a tendency to offend don’t get stuck in an endless cycle of going in and out of prison, this would be the best model to follow. It would save money on prison costs and would ensure that young people who start out committing anti-social behaviour are given the best possible opportunity in life and aren’t shunned because of a criminal record when they were young. The troubled youths who commit anti-social behaviour offenses need to be educated on the error of their ways, not punished so they have no future in society.
To see more about the recent figures, click here.