Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Anti-social

For all the focus on holding terrorist suspects without trial for a (proposed) period of 90 days and anti-religious hatred bills, the most illiberal measure introduced by the Blair government is surely the Anti-social Behaviour Order.

There was an excellent report on this on the BBC on Sunday (The World This Weekend). There is "Mission creep": for example, ASBOs have been used as a way reintroducing custodial sentences for prostitutes.

ASBO concern argue that the standard of evidence required by an ASBO is much lower than that required by the courts - hearsay evidence etc is allowed. You can get an ASBO for something that's not a criminal offence, but breaching an ASBO is a criminal offence, so many go to jail for this. Poor, working-class areas (like Gorton in East Manchester) are the most affected. There's nowhere for young children to go, so they hang about on street corners, but the police enforce dispersal orders to prevent more than three doing so.

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