Crimbos? We could be heading for EastEnders gone mad
The whole point of the Asbo was to prevent anti-social characters wreaking havoc in local communities, bullying the vulnerable and generally being a mean to other people. Dennis the Menace probably would have been issued with one, even though he said sorry sometimes.
Any legislation that counteracts terror and grief for innocent people is a good thing. But of course, questions have always been present as to how effectual Asbos actually are – the statistics and arguments for and against have generally been inconclusive on the whole. And so cue Theresa May’s cunning scheme to improve these naughty step punishments once and for all.
We can’t possibly determine yet whether these splendidly touted ‘Crimbos’ will be an improvement in terms of tackling genuine disorder and ridding our streets of those all-too-reckless miscreants; as indeed it was difficult to measure how effective Asbos were in the first place. Either way, Theresa May believes the old guard to be broken. The implementation of an updated hasty and accountable justice is apparently upon us.
It is true to say that Asbos needed a look at. It was the length, bureaucracy and complexion of them, which dismayed May. So, unsurprisingly, she has replaced them with legislation allowing the police to act faster and with less red tape.
As with everything the Home Secretary does, it was met with controversy and concern. Critics claim that the new system will be a weaker and diluted version – that remains to be seen. Whether it’s an Asbo, Crimbo, or indeed a Banjo, they’ll be good and bad aspects with any community disorder prevention package. Basically, the Tories couldn’t just sit on a Labour-induced initiative, could they? The upheaval was imminent.
What is actually seriously worrying about the new plans is the ‘community trigger,’ a seemingly trivial addition to the Conservative ‘Big Society’ ideal. This is an unfathomably dangerous move, one that has the potential to undermine justice entirely.
And it would seem that I’m not the only person who thinks this. I’m sure the initial plans to deliver a trigger mechanism are with good intention, aiming to allow people to get their claims heard and acted on almost instantly; to enable the troubled to receive help and for direct action to save them from peril before it’s too late.
The inclusion of this tool may well do that to an extent – but more than likely, it will be misused and misjudged even more so. Take two fighting families; let’s use the Montagues and Capulets as examples. If the Capulets were assertively displeased with the Montagues, they could complain to police three times, as necessary, and therefore action would be taken. We don’t know as of yet what this action may be, but it’s going to surely take up valuable time, resources, and subsequently cost a great deal before the police realise that in this instance both families are as bad as each other. That is nothing but bad news. It’s just going to fuel feuds.
Families, or indeed individuals, will be able to resort to dirty tactics; make the target suffer with the new aid of legitimate authority. The vulnerable, disliked and bewildered would be at risk or reprisal, simply down to that old safety in numbers situation. This is a far greater problem – the fact that people who have done nothing wrong in the first place would be the ones under police investigation, or at least noted and viewed as a potential wrongdoer. Imagine if the Mitchell family had access to such means? Walford would be in disrepute.
The trigger mechanism will allow the aggressive or bored to prey on the desperate. It might prove beneficial in some cases, but it will act as a negative implant just as much – if not more – in others. It will enable a victim to complain, but it will allow the victimisers to complain in equal measure. And realistically, the targeted are usually the ones alone in these circumstances; who will they have to back them up? Will the police see through the web of candid lies? I do hope so.
Changing Asbos to crimbos was always on the cards with Theresa May, fine. And there are a number of positives in the changes. But if there are any tweaks before these are instilled, she might want to consider taking her finger off the trigger. There are bound to be safer ways to deliver efficiency.Tagged in: anti-social behaviour, ASBO, big society, community trigger, CRIMBO, crime, society, theresa may, youth
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