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SMASH ASBO'S! Britain's fascist police state must be resisted

Andy | 11.08.2004 04:53 | Repression

Article forwarded from elsewhere detailing the atrocity which is ASBO's - people banned for life from their homes, targeted by vigilantes with state complicity, unable to attend remedial courses because banned from the area, banned from associating with their friends... Where are human rights in modern Britain? Nowhere! Smash ASBO's!

It's taken from Socialist Worker's website (OK, Socialist Worker suck, but this article is cool...) - it's written by a youth worker

New Labour guilty of anti-social behaviour
BECCY PALMER is a youth worker in west London. She has seen first hand how New Labour’s new clampdown is tearing communities apart.
WHOLE COMMUNITIES are being criminalised—in the name of reducing crime.

New Labour is handing out Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) like confetti.

ASBOs are effectively banning orders. They can be served on people (usually young people) to restrict them from going to a certain place, associating with particular people, or even dressing in a certain way.

There are already laws against the behaviour most of us describe as “anti-social”—smashing up bus shelters, for example.

ASBOs are something else. They are a restriction on someone’s freedom even where there is no proof they have committed a crime.

An ASBO is not a criminal charge. But breaking the terms of an order is a criminal offence that can lead to five years in jail.

The kind of restrictions being placed on people are incredible. One man who was born and brought up in Brent, and still living there, was banned FOR LIFE from setting foot in the borough.

Others, in their teens, have more local banning orders, but they last for up to 25 years. In one case a group of young people were banned from having any contact with one another, and barred from a part of the borough.

It meant they could not attend the local youth club either together or individually. There was a course on one evening a week designed for young people who had got into trouble. It was perfectly suited to these teenagers.

When they appealed for the ban to be changed so they could attend the course, they were told to go back through the courts—a process that would not even have begun by the time the course had finished.

No one is pretending there aren’t real instances of “anti-social behaviour” in Blair’s Britain. But the evidence is mounting up that ASBOs are not only not a solution, they are becoming part of the problem.

A batch of orders was issued after housing department officials had spent a year collecting evidence on a group of young people. Most of what they were accused of was the kind of stuff we all did as teenagers. So why were 12 months spent spying on them rather than sorting the problem out?

The council then published the lads’ pictures in the local press, handed out leaflets with their faces on and sent the images round the council’s computer system.

The leaflets called on people to look out for these young men and ring up if they were seen together.

A group of men from outside the area then descended on the estate armed with baseball bats threatening to “sort out the troublemakers”.

That’s more than “anti-social”. It’s threatening serious violence. But no action was taken against that gang.

When the police arrived on one estate over an incident entirely unrelated to the young people who had been ASBOed, they ended up handcuffing an eight-year old to the railings.

That kind of outrage is the result of a whole community being labelled as anti-social or, to put it bluntly, as scum.

There are many, many other examples.

One young man was stopped by the police 35 times in three months. No charges were brought, but he was served with an order.

Young people are simply being treated as criminals for hanging around together or dressing in a certain way.

And behind it all is a desperate rundown in services and opportunities.

There used to be 39 youth centres in Brent. Now there are three. And there are fewer youth workers.

It’s not as simple as just the lack of youth facilities—though people realise there is nothing for young people to do.

It’s about the whole government approach. They talk of community values but rip communities apart.

One set of figures tells you everything about New Labour’s approach. The budget to improve youth services across London is £11 million. The budget for implementing the anti-social behaviour clampdown is £65 million.

The government pays lip service to the problems people face, and then tries to blame social problems on a minority of “bad people”.

But a backlash against New Labour’s repressive measures is developing. A group of us are trying to initiate an open letter and a campaign highlighting the ASBOs scandal.

If you want to be part of that, then get in touch. And let Socialist Worker know what’s happening in your area.

Let’s stand up for working class communities and refuse to be silent over this.

Beccy Palmer can be e-mailed at

- e-mail:


Hide the following 20 comments


11.08.2004 13:02

Completely agree that something needs to be done. As Beccy is writing for Socialist Worker and lives/works in Brent, I am writing about the same stuff in Fight Racism Fight Imperialism and live in Camden where the same shit is happening. Am more than happy to work with SW, anarchists or anyone else about this. Please get in touch.

Nicki Jameson
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:


11.08.2004 13:24

the problem is working class communities in which 13 year olds need to be told not to cycle around wearing bullet proof wests and such likes. now dont get me worng, im not for asbos, its just that some of the issues they try to address are for real and jsut not funny, so nasty kids will get banned from going within an area where they previously caused chaos. i live in a fairly troubled estate myself, and am looking to get out of there actually, cause what can you do there is a bunch of 10-15 year olds smashing my window to pieces, i cant go and beat them up, cause there bigger brothers would probably do me in then and talking to their parents wont yield any result neither, as these kids must have learned their rules somewhere. so and i totally cant be bothered to go to the copshop and try get somethying doen that way, cause like that i'd just stand out as a grass in my "community"

enough ranted


yes, ASBOs have had a significant effect on communities...

11.08.2004 15:11

...a positive effect. For example, in Manchester where I live there have been many ASBOs given out and whole communities have been saved. On the Langley estate in Middleton, North Manchester, hundreds of peoples' lives were ruined by one particular family, who constantly went on rampages, smashing up cars, mugging people, breaking windows, etc. Now that an ASBO has been issued specifically ordering them not to do these things and life has been breathed back into the area.

It is wrong to say that young people are issued with these orders when there is no evidence of them having committed a crime as this is quite simply a lie. Evidence must be presented in a court, the same as for any other crime. So next time get your facts straight before criticizing something that has improved the lives of so many.

Also, a lack of youth centres and youth workers in Brent has nothing to do with ASBOs, this is an entirely seperate issue, I cannot see how ASBOs can be blamed for this.

And yes, I accept that there are a few examples of ocasions when ASBOs have not worked or have been mis-used, eg M&S protests, but this does not mean that they are wrong in principal.

Paul C


11.08.2004 20:14

There are various varieties of Anti-Social Behaviour Order - some are issued against individuals, with Manchester having issued the most and some London boroughs not far behind. There are also blanket ASBOs on areas, which include a curfew for under 16 year olds and a power to tell other people assembled in groups of two or more to disperse. Whatever the standard of proof needed for issuing the individual ones (and it is very questionable) there is none needed in the second case. All that is needed is an agreement by the local police and council that there has been disruption and anti-social behaviour in that area. After that an order is in place for six months and anyone can be told to disperse. They do not have to do anything anti-social themselves.

There is masses more to say about this that can't be said in this thread, but the Anti-Social Behaviour Act is seriously something that people need to start getting informed about in the same way successive Public Order and Anti-Terrorist Acts have been. Be careful - this kind of power will always be used first on the least defensible - drug additcts, violent gangs, so-called 'problem families', just as previous laws have been initially directed at football hooligans or racists, but once the powers are used in this way they are open to wider use. So if you want to be selective about who you protect, protect yourself - and beware; it may well be a case of 'first they came for the drug addicts..'


ASBO's improve communities? Pull the other one, it's got a jackboot on

12.08.2004 08:30

Paul C obviously has no respect for basic freedoms. If he can feel happy living in a community under the jackboot of laws which recognise no inviolable rights, he must be a conformist sheep with no respect for his own freedom or anyone else’s.

To trade off basic human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of movement for petty utilitarian gains is the ultimate in shortsightedness towards the state apparatus and is an absolute indignity and insult to humanity.

I don’t give a shit if conformist sheep feel happier under the jackboot of these laws. I’m more interested in “improving the lives” of the authentically downtrodden, who are those menaced by these Nazi laws. Have ASBO’s made life easier for the homeless, or have they contributed to persecuting the homeless? Do they help the psychologically different, or are the psychologically different instead at risk of persecution by the normal under such laws, without being able to seek protection in cases where the sense of being immiserated by others is of unusual origin? Those of us who are sufficiently nonconformist to live under the constant shadow of state terror see the threat such measures pose far more clearly than those whose conception of “the facts” and of “improvements for the better” does not extend beyond their own participation in the Spectacle.

And by the way:

1) It is true that someone can be put under an ASBO without being guilty of a crime. The standards of proof in court are very low. Also, acts banned under ASBO’s need not be crimes. The above report includes people banned from meeting their friends, from living in their homes. This is NOT banning of crimes but of ordinary social activity.

2) If money is spent on crackdowns, this is money STOLEN from the budgets for things like youth clubs, and from pensioners, the NHS etc. The growing prison/police state is a black hole which sucks in endless resources without looking at the real causes of social problems.

3) Blaming individuals for social problems is unscientific and is a category error. Pretending that the world can be divided into the “social” and the “anti-social” is a delusion.

4) America has harsher laws, longer jail terms and more crackdowns than Britain. But are Americans “safer” from “crime”? Is there less “crime” in America? An apparent short-term “improvement” assessed from the standpoint of a single small area is not valid empirical data. Over time, ASBO’s and their ilk will contribute to deviance amplification. Is it a coincidence, for instance, that since New Labour’s crackdown started, gun crime has increased? In other words, social deviance is labelled and hardened. The ultimate result will be something like America – where millions are imprisoned at huge cost, all rights are destroyed AND the violent social deviance spirals upwards. Resist now before it’s too late!

Why do people who come up with support for ASBO’s and the like NEVER ask about the power-relations involved? Why do they never challenge the state’s “right” to throw around diKKKtats as it sees fit? Why, in fact, do they only ever talk about OUTCOMES, as if the MEANS are irrelevant?

Why shouldn’t 13-year-olds ride bicycles and wear bullet-proof vests if they want to? The anti-“crime” mentality may appeal to real suffering but it ends in an attempt to pose homogeneity and conformity at the expense of the different, the nonconformist, the troubled, the marginal.


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ASBOs are a cheaper alternative to prison

12.08.2004 08:47

ASBOs are a cheaper alternative to prison and taking people through the courts. The terms of an ASBOs can also be reviewed and appealed against. For example is someone is a drug user and the area they are banned from contains a drug rehab unit the terms can be adjusted to allow them to go there. ASBOs are flexible and are often tailor made to each individual. Also they are not given out like confetti as the writer of the top article suggests but are only given out after a large number of complaints are recieved about a group or an individual. Used properly ASBOs can cut crime and save public money otherwise spent dragging people through the courts and jailing them.

Camden Councillor

ASBOs useful if used properly

12.08.2004 10:48

Andy's comment is wrong - have you Andy every been out to confront someone who has been messing about with their sad little boombox on their modded polluting vehicle at full volume all night because you need some sleep because you need to get up to pay your rent in the morning. Or been robbed by some scally who has no respect for you or anyone else? I have. I don't trust the police but I also do not take kindly to thugs dicking me about. I currently have to go out an deal with them myself, if the law can deal with them that takes great personal risk which I am currently prepared to take away from me.

You should have freedom to do what you want as long as you do not impinge of the freedom of others to excercise their freedoms.

This should be the basis of what we are fighting for, not the freedom of individuals to cause fear to old people and threaten passers by in their own street. These thugs deserve a jackboot in the face mate.


Oh look, another Nazi idiot

12.08.2004 11:30

People who support anti-"crime" fanaticism always come out with this, "I've suffered X Y and Z so I know" bullshit. Well, not all of us live such conventional sheepish lives that the only time we suffer is when someone else is breaking the law or engaged in deviance. Actually I went to a special school which was just full of the kind of people Dev is on about, so I know them a damn sight better than he does from his one-sided perspective. I've suffered plenty in my life but a lot of it comes from things with idiots like Dev would think are perfectly OK. In fact a lot of it comes from the kind of normalist statist scum who support Nazi measures such as ASBOs. So don't start lecturing me on how crap your life is, you conformist normal idiot. And don't you "mate" me, you're no mate of mine with your fascist views.

ASBOs do not take away the "freedom to beat up old people" and the rest of this crap, they take away basic freedoms like free speech(bans on swearing), freedom of movement (bans on visiting certain areas), freedom of association (bans on meeting your mates), freedom of lifestyle choice (bans on drinking for instance). If your "freedom" from social deviance requires you to smash these basic liberties then it is YOU who is engaging in a "freedom" which encroaches on the freedom of others.

YOU cope with capitalist hell by sleeping at night and working during the day. The youths with their boomboxes cope with capitalist hell by staying up all night playing loud music. Who says your way is better or more justified than theirs? Why should your right to cope in your way be put before their right to cope in theirs? Why should this conflict of coping strategies just be seen from YOUR selfish side, without taking into account the other side at all? Why is it always the Other who is being selfish when conflict occurs?



12.08.2004 12:09

Look Andy you don't know the first thing about my life or what I don't anything about yours. But before you judge so quick have a bit of a think about this. I have been involved in enough direct action and other so called non-conformist actions, but don't you come high and mighty preaching with me.
I work (shifts by the way so think before you speak) so I don't get kicked out on the street, I support people's rights to protest to swear to fight the police. But I do not support people being allowed to wreck the lives of the vulnerable. I am not a fan of ASBOS I was just trying to point out the reason for them. Have you got a better solution?
OK many kids deal with their issues like having bugger all to do and being ground down and not getting a job by working on their boomboxes etc but that does not mean they have the right to threaten the vulnerable (like chucking bloody rocks at an old mentally handicapped woman who has no means of defending herself when she goes out which regularly happens round here). I agree people are brutalsied by the shitty system and that is why some people react this way but how can we stop this destruction of vulnerable people's lives. I don't need bloody protecting but I am not so small minded that I imagine everyone can fight and bully their way out of trouble. I agree that often those who are being selfish are those who are stopping others enjoying themselves as opposed to the other way around but you are completely wrong to suggest that you have suffered at the hands of people like me, I have been with the people on the barricades so stop with this personal bullshit.
Don't you call me a Nazi, I have fought fascists and Nazis all my life so where do get off with this? Your supporting of thuggish wannabes only underlines how much of a knee jerk reaction your statements are. Get off your high horse and think the issue through.
I called you mate because I believed you were a reasonable man who's views I might well agree with but you don't get anywhere by shutting your eyes to exploitation of the weak.
Wake up.


Faschism produces an ordered comminity

12.08.2004 12:25

Nazi Germany was well ordered, there was little crime.

Nobody dared put a foot out of place.

Nobody dared protest as Jews, Roma and Homosexuals among others, were rounded up ghettosied and exterminated.


verdict: Dev vs. Andy

12.08.2004 14:19

Dev is right. He is a reasonable libertarian lefty who nevertheless doesn't see why society needs to apologise for wankers.

Andy is a twat who thinks that beating up old ladies is some sort of protest against capitalism. And is therefore one of those aforementioned wankers.


Central Scrutiniser

Everyone's a critic

12.08.2004 14:59

1. Camden Councillor

"Tailor made to each individual" means that there are no restrictions on how someone can be persecuted, which makes it harder to find backdoors around ASBOs than around other legislation - this makes them MORE sinister, not less. What you say makes it sound like you are serving different individuals, when in fact your aim is to persecute each individual more comprehensively.

Laws "tailor made to each individual" are known in classical legal theory as bills of attainder and are a mark of despotism - of the minute regulation of everyday life and of inequality before the law. You can't defend this kind of fascism even on your own idiotic statist terms.

On the other hand, there is no PROTECTION from ASBO's which is "tailor-made for each individual". For instance, there is no law which prevents their being used against the psychologically different, which prevents their being used against people who are unable to obey for any reason, or which prevents their being used to suppress political dissent. It follows that the only way to protect ANYONE from the generic threat to all rights which is posed by ASBO's is to resist and smash them.

Also, ASBO's are not used as an "alternative to prison". Prisons are overflowing and the prison population is growing. They are used against people who would otherwise not face serious punishments at all. And they can lead to prison, as many people on ASBO's defy their conditions at one point or another - so they also INCREASE the prison population. In Derby for instance, someone has been jailed for playing football on a school field which was within an area banned under an ASBO. Was the ASBO then an "alternative" to giving this youth a jail sentence for doing something which wasn't even illegal except under the ASBO?

Of course, "Camden Councillor" is an agent of the state, so s/he has an interest in strengthening the state and taking away people's rights. So the rest of us have every reason to smell a rat at this post. Statists promote their own agenda at the expense of everyone else's freedom!

If "Camden Councillor" is involved in giving out ASBO's, he or she is a criminal against humanity and must be resisted by any means necessary! Let's respond to tailor-made persecution with tailor-made resistance which is really effective in smashing the British police state.

Also: the appearance of this post condoning police-state measures has caused me harassment, alarm and distress, as I am now rather annoyed. Can I now get an ASBO against "Camden Councillor" banning her/him from ever using a computer again, from ever discussing ASBO's again or from going within 500 yards of a council office? I bet not. But s/he can do this to her/his opponents and critics. Some equality this is.

BTW sorry for the multi-posting of the previous reply... My computer was playing up so I thought it hadn't been submitted...

2. Dev

How dare someone who starts his first post with “have you Andy ever…”, as if his own experiences give him an Archimedean standpoint and make him right no matter what, as if who he is rather than the strength of his arguments makes him right, accuse other people of being judgemental, on high horses etc., and of “personal bullshit”? In what way is “have you, Andy, been through all the things I have” not “personal bullshit”?!?! How dare someone whose first reaction to criticism is personal slights, whose argument is on the level of “give the thugs a boot in the face”, condemn others for “kneejerk reactions” or “not thinking things through”? There’s an old saying about glass houses and bricks… Look, I’m sorry I overreacted, OK, you’re not a fascist and you’re not as bad as I was assuming, but you know, when you pull this “I’m a working class guy so I know all the answers” shit, it really gets my back up – you’re trying to silence me because you think I’m not like you, and that’s not very appropriate if you want a reasoned debate.

Do I have a solution to all the problems in your world? Can I eliminate all harmful actions between human beings overnight? Well, Dev, can YOU? As far as I’m concerned, protecting the nonconformists and the victims of the state is priority number one. I don’t like some of the other shit which goes on, I don’t have a way to stop it overnight, but this is NO EXCUSE for smashing basic freedoms and building a police state, which will ALSO cause harm to vulnerable people.

Of course I have plenty of suggestions to alleviate social problems – the article I reprinted says spend less on repression and more on youth clubs and other facilities for the poor. And I’ve already said, treat the issue as a conflict with two valid viewpoints, instead of pretending you embody the ONLY worthwhile way of life and that others are just selfish or anti-social because they inadvertently harm you. But to you, if I don’t agree with you I must be “supporting the thugs”.

And the only consistent way to fight fascism is to oppose its roots in everyday life, which includes the idea that social order and community cohesion justify giving up our basic rights to the state and standing by while police-state measures are imposed.

3. The wanker who says I'm a wanker (takes one to know one bunghole)

No way, buttwipe. Huh huh. You produce such convincing arguments, I'm going to have to kick your ass. No, really, dude. Your posting sucked. Like, big time. And stuff. And, like, I'm replying on, like, a level you might understand, dumbass. So like dude, when did I say it's cool to beat up old people? I mean like, if it's like, General Pinochet, like, that would be cool. Huh huh. But, like, is it, like, cool to lose all your rights because you wrongly think your dumb ideas will, like, kick the asses of a few dudes you don't like? Like, that's dumb, dude. Even for you.


...and there we go

12.08.2004 15:55

...a typically self-obsessed nobhead rant from Rik out the Young Ones/Andy.

Why don't you fuck off back to the playground and leave political debate to the adults, pretend anarchist?

up yours farty-features. I'm off to listen to Cliff

Why the shit Bill & Ted impression, Andy?

12.08.2004 16:05

You're not funny and I'm not a Yank. I'm from the same country as you which is why I used the term wanker, you WANKER.

I also don't need a dictionary and a degree in sociology to spot a grandstanding little tosser wannabe when I see one.


The Central Scrutiniser

Debate is good

12.08.2004 16:22

Andy - I appreciate the points you have made in that last post and I do accept that my initial reaction of boot in the face was a knee jerk reaction. It is tricky not to react like that when faced with people who are in your face every night - this is not supposed to be a preachy "I always no best" point. I agree completely that repression is not the way to sort out problems and also that we should be spending money on things for these kids to do. And I take back the implication that you are pro-granny bashing, this should be picked up under very basic laws that protect freedom anyway shouldn't they?

I am going on personal experience while trying to see the bigger picture too, as I think everyone does, by "personal bullshit" I meant personal attacks which aren't necessary. It is all too easy for everyone (including myself) to personalise and then assume this applies to all.

It's just that when people (and I mean a general conformist mass of people in society) are confronted with people who in effect are bullying them and who are bigger / stronger / fitter / younger than them I can see why they would feel that they want "someone" to do "something" about it. I agree with you that ASBOs are not a good idea generally and opposed them when they were first introduced.

So you believe fundamental freedoms take primacy over everything else - that's hard to disagree with, I believe that personal freedom should be curtailed at the point where we start to destroy other people's ability to live including destroy their environment.

You wil probably disagree with me given what you've said before but i do think there should be a debate about it. And we should all try to avoid knee-jerk reactions - including myself.



12.08.2004 16:24

Cheers central you got me pegged
And I recognise a good term of abuse from the same country as my own when I see it


cheers Dev

12.08.2004 18:04

I'm starting to think you're pretty cool after all. Sorry I misjudged you. I guess I just get rather annoyed having the same debate over and over... Yes I'm against granny bashers, and by all means bash them if you catch them in the act, though it would of course be better if they could be persuaded not to do it BEFORE they started... Unless maybe we can persuade them to only bash General Pinochet. And David Blunkett. Actually I'm half-hoping they're only bashing grannies because they don't know who the real targets are, or can't get at them... This isn't exactly a proven theory though...

As for Central Twatinator, isn't calling someone a wanker anti-social behaviour you pillock? Not to mention listening to Cliff. This so-called "pop" music is far too dangerous for the masses. Clearly unacceptable in all civilised countries. We can't tolerate it, it's a slippery slope. One moment it's Cliff, the next it's Rage Against the Machine, and before you know it you're shooting cops. Off to the penitentiary with you, you dangerous anti-social menace!


Cheers Andy

13.08.2004 10:03

Cool - that's why I called you mate!
I agree that we should help to educate people to direct anger away from innocents and towards guilty like Blunkett etc
Peace out.


If the cap fits

13.08.2004 10:32

Its not antisocial to call someone a wanker if that is what they are. It is merely an accurate description.


Central Twatinator (wow, that was witty)

wow & 'first they came for the...'

13.08.2004 11:15

wow! It's pretty normal on Indymedia, unfortunately, for people to abuse each other something cronic from a high moral standpoint, rather than using the newswire constructively. Here is an example of that turning into something better - well done folks, though it'd be good to start out like that. It's rare that someone insulted has the perseverance and personal confidence to continue being reasonable - usually others join in the insults, & most others stop reading.

Whilst there may not be a direct money trade-off between youth centres and ASBOs etc, they are different ways of dealing with real issues in our communities. If a council (like Manchester) favours ASBOs, it will be at the cost of other approaches. Same with CCTV - in that case, money was offered to communities to make them safer for CCTV schemes only - there was no choice, and no offer of other approaches.
And whilst I believe there are ultimate freedoms which should not be sacrificed, I also think that respect/anarchy/whatever you want to call it means the freedom to do what you like without fucking over others (unless they are fucking over people themselves) - it is not freedom to do what you like how and when you like.
And ASBOs are already being used against campaigners - first two animal rights examples have already happened - the Free BEAGLES website will have a briefing sometime soon I'm told.


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