15 January 2006

Tony Blair is being brave and honest by taking on anti-social behaviour.

Tony Blair is taking on the hard task of trying to change a culture. This is always difficult but as the turn-around in attitudes to drink driving show, it is possible for a government to do this.

I think it is right to suggest that summary justice is part of the solution. It is not the whole solution and it may not even be the biggest factor but it is important.

This government has done more than most in reducing crime by reducing unemployment massively and reducing child poverty. I doubt that anti-social behaviour is any worse than it has ever been (we need to remember that the majority of people including young people are law abiding), but that does not mean it should be ignored. Anti-social behaviour blights the lives of the poorest people the most and is a responsibility a government shouldn't duck.

Of course no government can force the sort of respect on people where youngsters give up their seats on the bus for the elderly but they CAN tackle low level crime. Indeed it is their responsibility.

There are many factors that probably affect crime. The biggest two factors are probably unemployment and inequality and these are factors this government has turned around. Perhaps not quickly enough for those of us on the left but nevertheless they have made a massive difference.

The massive increase in investment in public services benefits the poor the most by providing them with better levels of service that they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. The Conservatives always worsen crime because they don't care about public services, they just care about tax cuts and they have let unemployment spiral in their past governments.

There are of course many other ways of reducing anti-social behaviour. This govt has introduced parenting skills training for problem parents and introduced measures to tackle truancy. The new range of summary powers being proposed will help with creating a new culture that anti-social behaviour will just not be tolerated.

But there are of course other more positive measures that are also needed. The biggest of these are the need for an investment in providing disaffected young people with something else to do other than loiter the streets and take drugs. We need more sports facilities and more community centres that are easily and cheaply accessible for all. We need to get youngsters more involved in sports and community activities both for their health and the development of a responsible attitude.

Another problem is reducing alcohol consumption. Thankfully the solutions here are easier. The first is a complete ban on alcohol advertising. This will not be popular in the media, but the effects are shown in the decrease in alcohol consumption in France where advertising was recently banned. The other probably even more unpopular solution is to raise the tax on alcohol thereby increasing the price and reducing affordability.

These simple measures could achieve quite a lot, but of course something as deep rooted as anti-social behaviour could take decades of progress to make a significant impact.


  1. Tony Blair is brave & honest is he? Ha!

    Well, in that case, how come his government presided over the Criminal Justice (Terrorism & Conspiracy) Act 1998, which provides, in subsection 14 of section 5, that nobody acting on behalf of the Crown may be charged with Criminal Conspiracy under this Act and further repeals the relevant sections of the Criminal Law Act 1977, which would offer the only other means of redress?

    Perhaps you agree that we must not accept vandalism but we must accept the possibility that MP's, UK Armed Forces, UK Security Services and UK Police may engage in any Criminal Conspiracy, in pursuance of their job, as enshrined in Law.

    Indeed, were it not for that subsection, senior members of HM Govt, possibly including Blair himself, would be liable for prosecution for a Criminal Conspiracy to Torture in Uzbekistan. The Act specifically covers jurisdiction by providing that any offence which would be an offence in England & Wales which is alleged to have been conspired in can be tried here so long as the Conspiracy was committed here. There is much wider scope under this law than any definitions of "complicity" under UNCAT. Basically if you agree with others to work together and one of them commits an offence as part of the agreement, you're guilty.

    So tell me how Criminal Conspiracy to Torture is brave & honest? Isn't that actually one of the most heinous, but also cowardly, offences on earth? To provide yourself with a legal loophole whilst seeking to deprive the bulk of UK citizenry of due process of law is not brave or honest, it is the worst kind of hypocrisy.

    A fact Neil. Not an opinion, a fact: check it out. And one which i shall be making it my business to disseminate as widely as my humble efforts will allow.

  2. edjog.

    In terms of virtually everything else, Tony Blair has been cowardly, you are right to point this out, but in tackling anti-social behaviour he is right.