Detentions don’t work

Filling the pail

It was probably around 2005. I was driving to work in London listening to news on the car radio. They were running a piece on Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) and, as it progressed, I became irritated.

ASBOs were effectively restraining orders sought by local authorities and issued by the courts. They forbade those subjected to them of committing certain acts on the basis that these were antisocial. ASBOs were issued for things such as vandalism or abusive behaviour.

ASBOs attracted a great deal of criticism, much of it justified, but I was baffled by the argument I was hearing on the radio. Apparently, ASBOs did not ‘work’ because around 60% were breached. This appeared to be accepted uncritically by the presenters.

If the 60% figure was true, I did not think this conclusion was justified. It seemed that in 40% of cases, ASBOs were successful in halting the targeted behaviour…

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