Socialist Worker

Asbo concern against authoritarian fever

by Matt Foot
Issue No. 1959

Home office minister Hazel Blears is celebrating new figures showing that the number of anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) issued has more than doubled in a year.

She announced last week that the rise in figures shows that Asbos are working. But there is still no evidence to show that Asbos are effective, or that they do anything to deal with the causes of anti-social behaviour.

Blears claims public support for Asbos. But even among those who show support, 46 percent say they will not be effective.

Recent research by the Joseph Rowntree Trust into anti-social behaviour found that two thirds of people think the emphasis should be on preventive work.

The fact that Blears gave some emphasis to support for Individual Support Orders (ISOs) for Asbo recipients aged between ten and 17 is clearly a response to growing criticism.

ISOs can be attached to an Asbo to tackle the causes of the anti-social behaviour by, for example, ordering people to attend anger management or alcohol misuse programmes.

But only seven ISOs have been given out so far.

It is very easy for the authorities to impose an Asbo. Only 1 percent of applications have been refused. Nearly half of the orders are used against young people.

Asbo Concern, a growing campaign of over 40 organisations, is calling for an end to the scapegoating and a full public government review into the abuse of Asbos.

Matt Foot is a criminal defence solicitor at Michael Fisher Solicitors and coordinator of Asbo Concern. He writes in a personal capacity.

Stop the Asbo Fever — lobby parliament on Wednesday 20 July, 5pm. For full details go to

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Sat 9 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1959
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