Crime and punishment

Youth Policy: Bullying the New Labour Way

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Author Barry Goldson examines the criminalisation of young people under Tony Blair.

In early September Tony Blair made a speech in which he laid down the contours of New Labour's so called 'respect agenda'. He emphasised familiar themes and rationales, and differentiated between what he called the 'law-abiding majority' and the 'unruly minority'. In many respects Blair's speech echoed messages that have featured in major strategic policy documents including Cutting Crime, Delivering Justice: A Strategic Plan for Criminal Justice, published in 2004, in which the government set out its plans to 'protect the innocent' and 'pursue the guilty'.

Asbo: A License for Persecution

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Last month a teenager in Suffolk was served with an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) banning him from using abusive language and visiting particular areas.

It would have passed by unnoticed, but the district council decided, for the first time, to distribute 500 leaflets revealing his identity and urging residents to notify the appropriate authorities if he breaks any of his conditions.

'Either the locality will be too frightened to go near him or the opposite will happen, and they will get together, seek him out and exact some vengeance on him,' his solicitor David Stewart told Socialist Review. 'I am considering the law on the publication of photographs, and I may be taking further action.'

Leave Our Kids Alone

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Matt Foot looks at the implications of Asbos, from the ridiculous to the draconian.

'Anti-social behaviour' seems to have replaced 'weapons of mass destruction' as the latest buzz phrase of New Labour. Tony Blair, looking a little out of place, spread the message on a recent visit to the Potter Street area of Harlow:

'Anti-social behaviour can ruin neighbourhoods and make life a misery for decent, hard-working families... anti-social behaviour orders, acceptable behaviour contracts, fixed penalty notices, dispersal orders, closing crack houses, controlling fireworks, clamping down on graffiti and litter... Together we can beat it... the louts are on notice.'

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