I totally agree with Tom Wall's article ('A Licence for Persecution', April SR), and will be supporting Asbo Concern.
The coordinator of council/police action against anti-social behaviour in Newcastle last month assured a meeting that they were adopting a softly-softly approach, with full use of conciliation, support and warnings before issuing orders, but I still wrote to him expressing my concerns.
Two days later I watched the football match and the brawl between Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer. Newspapers reported that police wouldn't be taking action because 'no formal complaint' had been received. So I rang asking if mine hadn't been received, and was assured that it had, and was being dealt with 'at the highest level'.
A couple of days later, the local paper was already treating Dyer and even Bowyer as victims, and printed a full apology from the latter, who then got a standing ovation from the crowd when brought on as a substitute. In the same paper was a report of an affray, four youths caught fighting in town 'on camera', investigated, tried, convicted and sentenced to do 200 hours community service.
I'm not holding my breath for serious charges to be brought against Dyer or Bowyer. What gets my gall is the 'one rule for the rich, another for the poor' - footballers seen by millions exchanging blows given a mild reprimand, while any of the people witnessing the incident who then copy the behaviour have the book thrown at them.
I'm not advocating that everyone should be let off. I'm 57, disabled and mostly housebound. I've lived for 15 years in a city centre tower block, and have in the past suffered from successive next door neighbours drug dealing to children and engaging in domestic violence, who threatened me when I complained. But how can I trust to deal with the problem a government which oversees increased poverty while boardroom salaries mushroom, gentrifying areas while selling off council housing or depriving it of funds, which continues the shrinkage of playing field space, which privatised prisons while already over-stretched social worker and probation officer numbers plummet, which spent millions targeting benefit fraud while company fraud trials are allowed to collapse and tax haven loopholes lose taxpayers billions, which furiously complains about any half-liberal judicial decision while using anti-terror laws to target peaceful protesters?
Not a lot. This and past governments are causing the problems which they then enact draconian measures to 'solve'. If we don't campaign now, very soon it'll be illegal to do so.
Newcastle upon Tyne