I wanted to talk about the issue of anti social behavior because its a subject that seems to weigh on the minds of a lot of people. The topic always raises peoples blood pressure and it seems to bring out the most venomous and anger filled opinions i have ever heard.
I want to talk about this as its a subject that John Prescott is going to use to get as many votes as possible. He is going to tell the voting public exactly what they want to hear. He is going to make promises to reduce anti social behavior and he is going to say he will use the police to do it.
I want to say that anti social behavior is something that i loath, even though, like most people, i have been guilty of behaving in an anti social way myself. Who hasn’t gotten drunk and then become loud and obnoxious? Who hasn’t had a sneaky whizz in the bushes or dropped some litter when it would have been just as easy to put it in the bin!
I want to explain the distinction between anti social behavior and criminal behavior that other candidates will not do.
If a group of say 6 teenage lads were drinking at a bus stop and they were loud and were constantly using profanity, you would not be far wrong to describe this behavior as anti social. Its irresponsible and totally unreasonable behavior. Whether its bothering anyone or not its not particularly nice.
Now even though i don’t like or agree with this type of behavior i don’t think its the duty of the police to do anything about it, because at the end of the day, they are not doing anything wrong. Think about it this way. If 6 middle age men were drinking in a back garden at a barbecue and exhibited the same behavior most people wouldn’t think to send the police around to the front door, but for some reason people think its acceptable to do this with teenage kids.
Because i like to think and rationalize situations like this you can tell from where this post is going that i would not prioritize police resources to fixing anti social behavior. people are always going to behave badly. Teenagers are always going to behave badly.
where i am interested in prioritizing police funds is where anti social behavior stops being that and becomes criminal behavior. if this group of 6 teenagers started to vandalize the bus shelter for example, then they are no longer behaving in an anti social way but in a criminal way and should be punished accordingly.
It is really important in reading this post that you understand this fundamental difference. Its important because if anti social behavior becomes criminal behavior, then it needs to be called that. you don’t punish someone who has vandalized a bus shelter with an ASBO or something of that ilk. you charge them with criminal damage and pray that the CPS gives them a custodial sentence in accordance with the severity of the crime.
If someone has caused harm to someone, if someone has caused damage to property, if someone has stolen something then they need to be arrested and charged with that crime.
Any behavior that includes the above actions is not anti social but criminal!
We need to move away from the nanny state principles that the state must control and approve of all behavior and if they don’t like it well then there will be fines and orders removing liberty with not so much as a day in court.
I want to give advice and help to communities that have residents that behave unreasonably and irresponsibly. i want the communities to rid themselves of people who are anti social in a peaceful and voluntary way. This just doesn’t happen when you get the police involved. It more than often exacerbates the situation making it worse for the residents who have to put up with unreasonable and irresponsible behavior. If it becomes criminal then arrests should be made, but i think communities should be empowered to deal with these issues with the full co-operation of the police in an advisory role.
It should be peaceful and voluntary and it should involve everyone.
By doing it this way you deal with the social problems directly instead of asking the state to solve all the problems, which they continuously fail to do despite a plethora of new laws which have also done nothing to solve social problems.
The anti-social Behavior Act 2003 is not one of the finest laws created by our government, a government of which John Prescott was the deputy leader of. It gets abused and is not necessary, and i speak from experience because the local authorities wanted to take me to court under this legislation for taking my 7 year old daughter to the US to visit her grandparents. Luckily for me they were convinced by my calm common sense argument and reasoned debate. That and the Lawyers told them they would not win if it went to court.
To get back on track I’m saying that i would not prioritize police resources to anti social behavior. Spending tax payers money on trying to make people who behave badly not behave badly is social engineering and a waste of money. The bad behavior is there and making them stand in court isn’t going to change that all the time so why continue to spend taxpayers money when it doesn’t work. Fining them isn’t going to change behavior all the time either. Friends, family and community WILL change that behavior if their is the will to do it.
I know i would not feel comfortable if i was responsible for using police resources to deal with something that took resources away from someone who has just had their house burgled and needed the police to start an investigation. I would not feel comfortable if i saw two police officers dealing with some unruly kids in a park when they could have been going door to door making inquiries and looking for witnesses to a CRIME that has been committed.
I want resources spent on solving crime not correcting bad behavior. I want resources spent on police patrolling the streets not on sitting on the side of a road with little or no traffic on it looking to impose fines on drivers who are speeding (controversial i know but most people i know would like to see more law enforcement officers walking the streets than sat inside patrol cars).
Not everyone is going to agree with me. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but at least i have got the balls to stand up and say/try something different, instead of just sitting in my armchair complaining and doing nothing!
Constructive criticism welcome. Please don’t use any profanity in your comments as i want to approve all comments, even the ones that try and take me down a peg or two, but i will not approve a comment laced with swear words.