Youth in crisis: antisocial behaviour - ASB

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Youth in Crisis

Anti Social Behaviour


Anti-Social Behaviour or more commonly abbreviated as ASB, has become a strife issue in society today, with many organisations and the government rapidly trying to control this issue. It was during the times of Tony Blair and the Labour Government the issue of tackling ASB been around. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 was meant to act as a deterrent to discipline the youths of Britain. The former Prime Minister David Cameron has called his govenemrnents response to ASB as a ‘revolution in responsibility’, where society should take probe and responsibility and there should be less state intervention. However it’s the same government who are endlessly targeting upon the young often disadvantaged youths of society and are frequently at the receiving ends of stereotypes from not just the criminal justice system, but in the political system itself. This assignment develops a critical and evaluative analysis on the political and theological significance of ASB and how policies and interventions have been developed in order to drive out Anti Social Behaviour.


Anti Social behaviour is seen as being a prevalent topic and in the forefront of society today. ASB is a rife issue and is most commonly heard about in everyday life. As society is progressing rapidly, so are many societal problems, anti social behaviour being one of them. There have been many legislations and forms of method controls in order to tackle ASB; however its effectiveness can be debated. The current political polices and interventions that have been introduced and developed have been intended to curb ASB, but it may be so that it has caused more damage than good. Further on in this assignment, policies and interventions will be evaluated.

What is Anti Social Behaviour?

To define Anti Social behaviour in itself is hard; everyone has their own interpretation to what ASB is, so therefore to state a universal definition of what ASB is difficult. However there is a definition to what ASB, but it may not be the right one to all. The concept of ASB is not something which is new; it was previously known and described as deviance/disorder. According to the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 ASB is described as ‘Acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household.’ Examples of Anti Social Behaviour include excessive noise levels, littering, vandalism etc. Since the introduction of the ASBO, there have been a total of 16.999 ASBO’s being handed out between the years of 1999 to 2008, with areas like London, Greater Manchester and the Midlands having the highest in the number of ASBO being handed out. (REFERENCE)

Media Influence of Anti-Social Behaviour

There is a great deal of phenomena that has been created due to ASB, and this is seen not in just in how many ASB have been given out but also in political matters and the way it’s been presented in the media. Anti social behaviour was never linked to youths or seen as an issue associated with the young people of Britain. However in recent years it has been more commonly seen as being a problem with the youths. The way ASB has been portrayed in the media can only be summed up as a stereotypical illustration. It has clearly been painted as a working class problem, and how ASB is prevalent in deprived areas of society, whereby it’s affecting single parent families or families on benefit. Whether or not anyone from a middle class background has subdued in ASB has no relevance and is categorically ignored. Highlighting the fact the media has constructed this issue into something of an extreme hardship that has made the problems of youth into a dark blemish consisting of all negativity. The media has created this stigma, this moral panic frenzy in which all youths are categorised already as being ASBO ‘thugs’. Where it’s correct to say that ASB is caused by youths more, to say all are the same can have damaging effect. The ‘Vicky Pollard’ kind of image has been rolled across each individual mind, so now anyone seen wearing ‘tracksuits’ and ‘hoodies’ is already labelled as someone who participates in ASB.

Factors that have an Impact on Anti Social Behaviour

Anti Social Behaviour is most commonly associated with working class boys and girls, who are socially and materially deprived. It’s seen as a working class problem which is due to not being socialised properly or poor upbringing. Majority of the time it’s seen as negligence on the parents, who are seen to be the cause of blame. The problems of anti social behaviour many would state would be due to kids being kids, or the fact they come from a deprived background but factors such as lack of facilities that are provided for youths wouldn’t be taken into consideration. In this economic downturn, public services have seen a great deal of cuts, which has led to the closure of youth clubs. Where government initiative should be the first thing in order to deal with this problem, it’s been taken a huge setback. Anti social behaviour can be said to be due to poverty and unemployment which affects the working class families a lot. The lack of things to do also plays a pivotal role, as youths are then forced to tackle boredom in ways that are unfit.

The role of the Government

However in all these matters, one thing is certain the lack of government response to do anything about it. Bringing out control methods such as ASBO or dispersal orders are effective short term, but in the long term it does nothing but even wastes more time resources and money. If anything the government should show some initiative and some action in order to tidy up this mess. The government use ASB in their manifesto as a way to make the general public believe that there is something in place to combat this issue. However when it comes to delivering and being practical, the government has a certain problem in prioritising. Rather things like MP’s expenses and scandals play a bigger role, when the govenemrnents are battling such scandals in its own party, for them to make a decision or create a solution on ASB seems too far stretched. ASB gets mentioned when a big commotion occurs by the general public but even then it’s the local council and the local MP’s who deliberate, it becomes a local issue rather than a national issue.

Organisations that are involved

Youth Justice Board

The youth justice board is a specific government run organisation that recognises how ASB can have an impact on everyone in the community and how such behaviour needs to be addressed. The pivotal role of the YJB helps binds down differences and helps creates bridges in the lives of the youngsters and other members of the community. Anti Social behaviour can be detrimental to victims and with the YJB it helps almost in a restorative way where it focuses on the needs of the victims to prevent them from offending. Youth Offending team (YOT) throughout the organisation seek out interventions alongside control measures such as ASBO’s and Acceptable Behaviour contracts (ABC’s). The YOT have like an appropriate and effective way in order to work with those who have had an injunction of ASBO’s placed on them. YOT make sure that appropriate and effective conditions are placed on the terms of ASBO’s in order to make that they are not breached. The YJB works closely with an organisation called ‘Respect Taskforce’ in order to achieve the outcome of respect. The way the organization works relies on the fact that the youths are incorporated into the crime prevention programmes. This is a good way to do this as if members of an organisation are just relied on to create policies it could have a different result as opposed to the fact that the youths themselves, who have a say in the implementation. The Respect task force also works collaboratively with the youth justice board in order to develop parenting interventions. The Respect taskforce have a tiered approach to ASB, initially beginning with Anti Social Behaviour contracts that have been used alongside preventive support which shows how fewer youths then go onto receiving an ASBO.

Large Government Departments-Home Office

The Home office has an Anti Social behaviour Unit which focuses and centres upon Anti Social Behaviour. Working alongside practitioners and other organisation there is a great deal of emphasis that is put forward in order to ensure that policy responses and legislations work and help not just curb Anti social behaviour but also ensure that young people get all the support they need in order to change their behaviour. The Home office draws guidance from the police; local authorities, youth offending teams as well as the courts in order tackle the problems of anti social behaviour. The home offices have many partnerships in ties in order to tackle ASB. The crime and disorder reduction partnership is a centrefold in the government’s approach to the reduction of not just anti social behaviour but crime on a whole. What this partnership ensures is that strategies are drawn up in order to reduce the anti social behaviours in their own areas, and what this ensures is that the needs of the community are met. The home office ensures that like all partnerships that are involved work collaboratively in order to ensure that it’s not just the needs of the community that are met but also focuses upon the needs of the offender as well. The Home office is the headquarter of tackling Anti Social behaviour and the partnerships are like the branches which split of into like regional and then local organisations and councils who alongside other units in order to combat anti social behaviour.



Anti Social Behaviour Order were introduced under section 1 of the crime and Disorder act 1998, which wasn’t enforced until the 1st April of 1999. Since then the act of ASBO has been amended by the Police Reform Act 2002, the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 and the serious organised crime and police act 2005. ASBO’s were originally a civil order that was introduced in order to protect the public from behaviour that was causing harassment, alarm or distress. What the ASBO initially stated were a series of protocols and rules in which the offender had to adhere to e.g. not being allowed in certain areas. The orders at this point were not seen as criminal sanctions or intended to punish the individual. The whole point of ASBO was to be preventive and not be punitive. However in recent years the whole concept of ASBO have changed, where once it was meant to be a civil injunction its now turned into a criminal sanction which can have a detrimental effect upon a young person life. The term ASBO itself is hard to define, where in theory and in practice there is a definition, it is still open to interpretation. E.g. Noise level is seen as something of an Anti social nature, but what constitutes too much noise level, where does the limit break is all dependent on the individual. The whole notion of ASBO and ASB is open to subjectivity.

Acceptable Behaviour Contract

Acceptable behaviour contracts or most commonly known as ABC is a legislation that came out in 2003. It is an early intervention that is made against individuals who are seen engaging anti social behaviour. This is a contract that is drawn up by multi agencies and the individuals in which rules are drawn up which stops the individual in question from participating in any negative behaviour. The positive aspect of this contract is the fact that there is focus upon the individual helping them to change their behaviour. ABC as policy can be quite harsh in the sense like the ASBO it is a civil order but it does have criminal implications if it is breached. Furthermore, there are other sanctions that can have detrimental effect. In the case of ABC there can be cases of loss of social housing or local authority, which can have a negative impact on not just the individuals but also other family members.


In order to conclude I believe that Anti Social behaviour is a problem that needs a lot of off in depth exploration. Anti Social behaviour is an issue that is quite sensitive and is dealt with at the minute in my opinion quite careless. The detrimental effects of all the legislations that have not been put in place nor work to the advantage of the neither youths nor does it diminish the problem. In order for Anti Social Behaviour to diminish, the root of the problem needs to be addressed. In order for the government and other establishment to tackle Anti Social behaviour there needs to be an established connection between the youth and agencies. By listening to the matter of the youth it may be a helping hand in trying to tackle ASB.


Cohen, S. (2002) Folk Devils and Moral Panics (3rd Edn). London: Routledge.

Harradine, S., Kodz, J., Lemetti, F. and Jones, B. (2004) Defining and Measuring Anti-Social Behaviour. Home Office Development and Practice Report 26. London: Home Office.