ASBOs and "The Respect Agenda"
There have been stories today about the government wanting to make progress on the "respect agenda". As usual they have no real idea of how to achieve things.
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders have been around for centuries. They are originally known as court injunctions. Much that there is criticism of ASBOs I do support their use. They are not a complete solution. It takes police resources to enforce them.
Where the government go wrong is targeting the number of ASBOs issued rather than trying to reduce anti-social behaviour. If there is less anti-social behaviour one would expect fewer ASBOs. In Birmingham when we took over (with the Conservatives) from Labour we substantially increased the number of ASBOs. However, that is as a tool to reduce anti-social behaviour rather than as an end in itself.
Efficient and just processes are the key to success in this area.
What ASBOs do do, however, is to move towards considering people rather than events. Although a court procedure has to consider a particular event or series of events, if we want to reduce crime we need to deal with criminals.
That is a matter of discouraging crime initially and also ensuring that those people that start down a route of criminality take a U turn.
This, however, is a completely different route to that which is currently used by government. Hence they are unlikely to make any real progress.
Interestingly in a league table of levels of Crime Birmingham came out quite well at around the levels in Cambridge. I am not sure that the figures were properly calculated, but it warrants looking at as an issue. We have managed to reduce crime in Yardley quite substantially - frequently by simple measures such as gating areas which previously gave burglars open access to the rear of people's houses.
It is sad that we have to do this, but it does make a real difference. We have also put in schemes to prevent repeat burglaries. That also works well.
It remains, however, that the over use of cautions does not help.