Readers will be unsurprised to learn that I’m not terribly impressed by all this. It appears to be more a case of grown adults behaving like scared children than kids behaving badly. The alleged crimes appear to be nothing more than a combination of anecdote and rumour exacerbated by a community that has whipped itself up into hysteria. For example, we are told that “teenagers have been using internet bulletin boards to arrange fights,” but does this mean that the kids are organising Fight Club-style gladiatorial contests, or that a couple of twats had a flamewar and took things a little too far. We are invited to believe the former, but I strongly suspect the latter.
One of the worst things that New Labour has done to this country is to infantilise attitudes towards crime and subsequently criminalise bad behaviour. Don’t get me wrong; ASBOs have a place as a last ditch resort when dealing with extreme cases. However, in general communities are much better at managing this sort of thing themselves. Yet every minor incident these days is automatically regarded as a police matter (and I’ve been to enough public meetings in various parts of the country to know how pervasive this has become). Crime is falling, yet rather than robustly defend this fact, Labour have actively encouraged people to move their attention onto essentially anything they find mildly distressing or irritating. And since the police don’t have a hope in hell of ever sorting such low level stuff out, a whole new industry has been created, endlessly creating more initiatives designed to create the illusion that things are getting worse and politicians are busily dealing with it. Anyone who demurs from this analysis is instantly branded as “soft on yobs” and marginalised.
I wonder how far this is going to continue; surely the wheels will have fallen off within the next five years? The new laws being proposed are so wide-ranging and so arbitrary that eventually the media will get bored of going along with it and switch instead to competing to expose the abuse.
Here’s hoping anyway. In the meantime countless people will be marginalised and criminalised with little discernible benefit to anyone.