A respected Brighton criminologist has criticised the replacement for ASBOs, saying that they could falter unless offenders’ families were offered support.
Professor Peter Squires, an academic at Brighton University, said that the criminal behaviour orders, or “Crimbos”, could also encourage witch-hunts.
The criminal behaviour orders were intended to act as a crime-prevention injunction to enable police and local authorities take action more quickly.
Professor Squires said: “I was always worried that if they ever got rid of the ASBO the government would only bring in something worse – and I think they have.
“What happened with the old ASBOs was that many of them were breached, so eventually they added ‘support orders’ to help them work more effectively.
“But many of these apparently ‘dysfunctional’ people, families and parents needed support, not just to complete the ASBO effectively but more importantly to get their lives in order.
“Without the infrastructure of support, I’m worried the new orders are just setting up more failure.”
Professor Squires, Brighton University’s professor of criminology and public policy, said that there were other potential problems with the new measures.
He also criticised the new community trigger – the provision that the police would have to act if five neighbours signed a complaint, saying: “In some respects, this runs the risk of recrimination against complainants, so there are questions about how well the police will and can respond to this – I suspect it will vary considerably from area to area.
“At the same time, it licenses and potentially legitimates a level of collective intolerance in a climate when we’ve become very censorious and judgmental about the poor and their kids – all of which goes back to deeper public policy problems, particularly inequality and social exclusion – and this could encourage local witch-hunts against unpopular neighbours.
“It has a ring of the lynch mob about it.
“The background to all of this is that crime has been falling overall in England and Wales for over ten years so at one level this is window dressing.
“It attempts to reassure people and to make the police more responsive, but I suspect that, as before, most complaints will come from areas where anti-social behaviour is not necessarily the worst but where the middle classes complain the most – and they are likely to get the best police response … a case of ‘same old, same old’.”