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ASBO Concern

Keith Parkins | 11.04.2005 17:19 | Repression | Social Struggles | London

The inaugural launch of ASBO Concern took place at Friends Meeting House Euston on the evening of Thursday 7 April 2005.

inaugural meeting of Asbo Concern
inaugural meeting of Asbo Concern

If there is one campaign that is doomed to fail, it has to be ASBO Concern.

The gist of the meeting, both from speakers and from the floor, was that the serving of ASBOs was unreasonable, especially the serving of ASBOs on children.

Anti-social behaviour is not something dreamt up by evil politicians like Bliar to gain column inches in the Daily Gutter. It is a real and growing problem, especially for people living on rough estates.

Anti-social behaviour can be anything from unreasonable noise disturbing ones peace and quiet to juvenile thugs terrorising entire estates.

Speaker after speaker kept referring to the serving of ASBOs on children and how unreasonable this was. One got the impression they were referring to children out of a 1950s Famous Five story or the Victorian Railway Children, not the juvenile thugs who are running riot in too many areas. That the serving of ASBOs on these little thugs was in itself a crime.

In Aldershot, on the housing association slum estates, the residents would be only too grateful if a few ASBOs were served, they are begging for ASBOs to be served.

The juvenile thugs, oops sorry children, are terrorising the estates, making the estates no-go areas in the daytime, let alone at night: milkman attacked, postman attacked, vandalism, Asian shopkeepers threatened, their customers threatened, pet rabbits mutilated and nailed to doors, a girl raped in a stairwell, horses slashed, other kids attacked and beaten up, cars smashed etc.

Yes, the council has served ASBOs. They served ASBOs on harmless drunks sitting in the park. People who if any official intervention was needed, required help not punishment. A cheap publicity stunt to make it look as though the Council was on top of the problem and doing something. This is a council that cannot even get its act together to deal with noise nuisance from noisy neighbours. If you have a noise problem, they have a solution, you just have to suffer.

Yes, there are problems with ASBOs, and that is where we should be concentrating our efforts.

The use of hearsay evidence, the use of ASBOs to silence political dissent.

A number of horror stories were told: eviction at one hours notice based on hearsay evidence, prostitutes being harassed for walking on the wrong side of the road.

But do we not here have a failure of due process?

In the case of the prostitutes, there was an intervention by a woman who said she had acted for prostitutes, and had been successful.

We have a right to a fair trial. That cannot be based on hearsay evidence. There has yet to be a challenge in The European Court.

The latest SchNEWS (issue 492) gave several examples of abuse of ASBOs.

One was that of distributing anti-Iraq War leaflets.

But in many cases, simply calling their bluff is sufficient. Peter Sandy, a community activist, now a local councillor, was threatened with not only an ASBO but also eviction from his home for daring to challenge a housing association to carry out repairs. He called their bluff, and they backed down.

Too many of the people at the inaugural launch of ASBO Concern seemed to be social workers or similar who are 9 times out of 10 the root cause of many social problems, and if not, succeed in making the problems worse following their intervention.

The meeting was predominantly middle class, who of course don't experience the problems of anti-social behaviour.

I expected the greatest concern to be at the misuse of ASBOs to silence political dissent. It was touched upon, but that was all.

The one person who spoke a lot of sense at the meeting was a Black girl who talked of growing up on a rough estate and was now a youth worker. I would have liked to have talked to her, but she spoke at the end, having waited patiently all evening to speak, then left.

The head of Liberty spoke of how she got more correspondence on acting for a group of kids than she had acting for terrorists. I am not surprised, and it is to underestimate how people's lives are being made hell by anti-social behaviour. If these kids were innocent victims and had been unfairly dealt, that is fine, but not if we are attempting to protect juvenile thugs. Are not the people they terrorise more deserving of our support?

Do people not have the right, especially women, to walk the streets and feel safe? To not live in fear?

ASBOs may not be the answer, and maybe they should be reformed and replaced. But we must be very careful not to mix two different issues, the clampdown on anti-social behaviour and the misuse of that clampdown to silence political dissent. There is also the right of people to be different, if that right is not approved of by other people, but we overstep the line if in being different we intrude on other peoples right to enjoy their lives.

Why for example, should I have some arsehole making a lot of noise disturbing my peace and quiet. They are free to make as much noise as they like, so long as they do not disturb anyone else.

If a girl wishes to walk in her own garden or answer the door scantily dressed (as mentioned in SchNEWS) that is her right. If neighbours take offence, that is their problem. Similarly, if the neighbours from hell make a lot of noise, that should be their problem.


Matt Foot, Join our war against rampant unfair Asbos, Camden New Journal, 7 April 2005

Michelle Goldberg, Asbos should be protecting decent folk, letters, Hackney Gazette, 31 March 2005

Mike Lane, Council threatens dissident with ASBO!, Indymedia UK, 30 March 2005

J P Mckenna, Exploding the myth of the ombudsman, letters, Camden New Journal, 7 April 2005

Richard Osley and Jonathan Allen, Grounded by police, Camden New Journal, 7 April 2005

Keith Parkins, Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, Indymedia UK, 28 June 2004

Keith Parkins, Misuse of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, Indymedia UK, 5 July 2004

Anna Stewart, Asbos are making life better for our neighbours, letters, Islington Tribune, 25 March 2005

Worst Asbos ever!, Schnews, Issue 492, 8 April 2005

Keith Parkins

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Hide the following 11 comments

The kids are alright...

11.04.2005 18:24

"The meeting was predominantly middle class, who of course don't experience the problems of anti-social behaviour."

Not sure what you mean by this exactly or what evidence you to have to support this claim, but never mind.

ASBOs, regardless on who they are served, are a gross infringements of all our civil liberties. The crimes that folk are ASBO-ed for are - on the whole - already illegal acts. The ASBO seems to just allow the courts to impose harsher, more severe sentences. Secondly, ASBOs do nothing to tackle the problem of social disorder, they merely move it elsewhere. If the author wants a real solution to the problem of anti-social behaviour, he should consider the social conditions that create these so-called "no go areas", and his "juvenile thugs" or whatever perjorative he chooses to describe them. Poverty, social exclusion, boredom (and many more) are all ingredients.

Short-sighted, punitive measures never have and never will reduce crime of any sort. It might, in the short term, make us feel warm and cosy in our vengeance; and labelling children as "thugs" allow us to distance ourselves from the fact that - as a society - this is our problem too.

mail e-mail:

Missing the point

11.04.2005 19:35

This report completely misses the point, and also trots out some stereotypes worthy of new Labour - civil liberties are a middle class indulgence, etc. I’d say the problem with Asbos is the opposite: they appeal to middle Britain’s dream of being ‘tough on crime’, while failing to deal with the real causes of antisocial behaviour.

Something needs to be done about Asbos, so Asbo Concern is a welcome initiative.

A couple of good articles on Asbos:

Institutionalised Spite, Chris Quayle

A triumph of hearsay and hysteria, Matt Foot,2763,1452266,00.html

ass bow

Something has to be done about Anti-Social Behaviour...

11.04.2005 21:37

Speaking as someone who is currently experiencing anti-social bahaviour almost daily from children in my area, I am perhaps not quite so charitable as others here. This is largely an area of home-owners, and yet a small group of children are causing damage to many of the houses round here of various sorts. Despite several reports to the police, this still continues.

I'm not convinced that ASBOs are the answer at all, but having been a victim of this there must be some defence against such behaviour.

Ian Franklin

if they applied asbos to...

12.04.2005 11:18

politicians, armies, the IMF and World Bank, oil companies, media monopolies and other corporations with no respect for ordinary people's rights to a decent peaceful life etc then MAYBE they might be a fair and sensible way forward. but, funnily enough it's only the least powerful people who seem to be served asbos. hmmm.


Enough is enough

12.04.2005 13:16

I have had nothing but trouble from local yobs. One even threatened to kill me for daring to stand up to them.

This guy wasn't so lucky....

(from a newspaper today)

"A MAN was beaten to death after confronting suspected drug pushers, it was claimed.

John Dabell, 25, is thought to have been belted with a piece of wood as he strolled home.

He suffered a terrible head injury in the incident on wasteland between the picturesque Notts village of Linby and neighbouring Hucknall, where he lived with partner Denise and his two stepkids.

Relatives believe Mr Dabell, a cleaner, yelled at a rowdy gang as he walked home from the pub on Sunday night.

The youths were believed to be singing around a bonfire.

John was later found unconscious near a level-crossing — and he died yesterday.

Distraught dad Alan Dabell said: “John was just a normal lad who tried to do the best for people.”

Another relative said: “John was a bloke who would not stand back. I think some youths were up to no good and he shouted to stop whatever they were doing.

“One guy hit him over the the head with something.”

Sickened villagers said they had asked police frequently to stop the yobs, who light fireworks to alert addicts.

Seven people were being quizzed last night by police."

This time it's Howard who gets my vote. Sorry.

we need community resources not reactionary magistrates

12.04.2005 15:44

The post could have been abstracts from the Daily Mail.

It is so obvious what can help prevent anti social behaviour, give the teenagers somewhere to go, e.g youth clubs. We were all teenagers once and we can surely empathise with them. I was lucky enough to have a youth club to go to when younger. I consider myself to be a socialable teenager at the time, but if there were not the resources available at the time, god knows i would proberly from time to time acted anti -social.

It is true that if you are brought up in a well-off home, you can invite friends over or your parents can take you on holiday and keep an eye on you. this is not an option for alot of kids whoose parents have to work unsocialable long hours on shitty pay, in over crowed homes

Statistically, teenagers are more likely to be victims of violence then any other group.

It would be reasonable to think that indymedia folk rise above the reactionary propaganda being spread out.

I attended the meeting and thought it to be very useful, moreover given people the confidence to start a real campaign starting off in camden where the Labour council has dished out more asbos then any where else.

red letter


12.04.2005 21:38

An ASBO is warranted for anything which "causes alarm" according to it's wide definition. Perhaps politicians should lead by example. I am very alarmed by a government who can kill and maim thousands of innocent people, in my name, without reason, right or consequences. A few dispossessed and restless kids are the least of my worries, when we are faced with corrupt and bloodthirsty leaders.

Colonel Mustard

Reactionary bollox

13.04.2005 08:07

another corporate news report - this time suggesting that there are better ways than ASBOs to deal with disaffected young people -,7843,1452570,00.html

An ASBO was recently given to a woman who has paranoid schizophrenia.

"Take a pill, have an ASBO........"


"Disaffected young people"??

13.04.2005 09:13

Last night I went home to find another downstairs window had been put through. Glass
all over the living room.

These little cunts are making my life hell.

Nothing short of National Service, tough nasty Borstal or The Cane will solve this

Get a grip, do-gooders.

This time it's Howard who gets my vote. Sorry.

Missing the point

13.04.2005 15:30

Missing the point

The commentary on the serving of Asbos has been to completely miss the point.

There is a serious and growing problem of anti-social behaviour. People's lives are being made hell.

At a public meeting on a rough estate in Aldershot, where, unlike the inaugural launch of Asbo Concern, those in attendance were not predominately middle class, there was a call for action. People wanted tough action. The wanted to see the juvenile thugs who were terrorising their estate caught and severely dealt with. They wanted to see problem families not only evicted, but kicked off the estate. They wanted action by the police, the local council, and the housing association.

Nighttime, Aldershot becomes a war zone. Drunken yobs rioting on the streets. No one does anything, neither the council nor the police. The council makes matters worse by extending drinking hours. Occasionally councillors wring their hands, shed a few crocodile tears, but nothing gets done.

Please, not the age old excuse of poverty, boredom etc. One is only as bored as one chooses to be. I assume those in the pubs getting pissed out of their brains, then finding the money to get clubbing, are living in abject poverty.

Yes people are living in shitty housing, neo-Labour housing policy is a disgrace, but that is an excuse to seize control of the town hall, squat the building, not make your living conditions even worse of a shit hole, beat up your fellow citizens.

Squatters seized control of a block of flats on Pepys Estate, putting on hold the councils redevelopments plans which is to evict social housing tenants and sell the land for redevelopment. The squatters have established a wildlife area, run art projects for the local community, wish to set up a community garden to provide cheap food for the local community.

What has been the response of the local kids? To attack the squatters, throw stones through the windows. It came as a bit of a shock to the kids when the squatters counter-attacked.

If the kids on Pepys Estate want a bit of excitement, why don't the help the squatters defend the building against eviction, target the real enemy.

No youth club. On the Pepys Estate, there is a 23-storey block sitting empty. Emptied of council tenants so it can be sold as luxury flats. Why don't the kids seize the tower block, create their own autonomous space. Come on, show a little initiative, the world does not owe you or anyone else a living.

I have met people who are from grinding poverty, who are from some of the poorest countries. They were some of the most generous people I have met. They invited me to sit and share with them their meal. I felt guilty to have done so, and yet it would have been impolite not to have done so. A very humbling experience. They don't engage in thuggish behaviour, then justify because of their poverty.

There is though a problem with Asbos. The use of hearsay evidence, the misuse of Asbos to target political activists, to silence political dissent.

This is where Asbo Concern should be concentrating its efforts, misuse of Asbos to eliminate political dissident, not the appropriate use of Asbos to deal with anti-social behaviour.

Today neo-Labour launched its bullshit manifesto. High on the list of priorities is to be more clampdowns on anti-social behaviour. An election winner as neo-Labour, for once, are simply delivering what people want.

There are issues of civil liberties, but whose rights are we concerned about, the right of people to safely walk the streets, or the rights of juvenile thugs and drunken yobs who may at long last be getting their just desserts?


Heil Nazi Keith?

08.12.2005 17:08

It's sometimes forgotten that the victims of Hitler's concentration camps did not only consist of political opponents, Jews and other minorities, but also of people accused of "anti-social behaviour" and various kinds of "crimes" (both serious and minor). So by Keith's approach, we should not be denouncing fascism and concentration camps, but only their "abuse" against the "wrong" people!

Civil rights are for EVERYONE, not for some conformist majority. No problem, however "real", can ever justify interfering with these rights. And I don't care what a bunch of people in Aldershot, too concerned with their own problems and what the local paper tells them to see beyond the ends of their noses, say about this.

There aren't always real solutions to problems. And where they are, they involve looking at causes, not supporting the destruction of basic rights.

I am constantly caused harassment, alarm and distress - my life is made a living hell, to the point where I went into clinical depression - by the statist scum and their crackdown-freak allies, and the way they are destroying freedom. I can't walk the streets without fear of CCTVs, offensive statist crackdown posters or ASBO notices, or area bans on gatherings, intruding on my vision and driving me to distraction.

If the bigots demand protection for themselves from harassment, but deny such protection to me from the harassment their violent rhetoric causes me, then they are hypocrites and what they have to say is of no value.

Fuck the bigots, fuck the pigfuckers, fuck ASBOs.

no ASBOs


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