Four: Lost in translation: interpreting and implementing anti-social behaviour policies

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Tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB) has, over the last decade, become a government priority in the United Kingdom. As the officially recorded crime rate continues to drop, there has been no let-up in government pressure to maintain ‘law and order’, with the passing of a number of pieces of legislation designed to control the range of activities that have become identified as ASB. In this process, there has been a shift in terminology and in the meaning of key terms such as ‘disorder’, ‘crime’ and ‘anti-social behaviour’, with a blurring of the distinctions between them. This chapter examines the ways in which ostensibly punitive and disciplinary policies on ASB have been interpreted and implemented in the past few years in England and Wales. Drawing on the research conducted in three London boroughs in 2006, it explores the gaps between rhetoric and reality and between interventions and outcomes. In doing so, the chapter argues that there are substantial difficulties and inconsistencies in the implementation of ASB strategies.

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