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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 12:08 GMT
Anti-social behaviour: Your views
Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has unveiled a set of measures outlawing anti-social behaviour in a statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Hooligans as young as 16 will face on-the-spot fines of up to 80 for offences such as harassment or being drunk and disorderly.

Beggars will be given criminal records and fixed penalty notices will also be used to cover offences such as truancy, criminal damage or cycling on the pavement.

More power will be given to local authorities and environmental health officers to tackle noisy neighbours and close down pubs and clubs that affect the peace of communities.

In a bid to tackle drug abuse, "Crack houses", where Class A drugs are used and sold, will be shut down within 48 hours, and sealed for three months to prevent dealers moving back.

Do you agree with Mr Blunkett's proposals? What should be done to remedy anti-social behaviour?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

The problem lies squarely with bad upbringing. Parents should be required to attend parenting classes which highlight the need for effective discipline in the home. If a child is brought up to have respect for other people and rules, they are far less likely to become nuisances as teenagers or adults.
Helen, UK

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Steve Perry, UK
Will David Blunkett's proposals to tackle anti-social behaviour work?

The further you get away from urban life the less crime there is in general, whether you're talking about the UK or any other country in the world, developed or not. Police and administrative regimes vary the world over, but the difference in crime and lawlessness between town and country does not. Tinkering with fines and punishments will not change such social differences. I'm not suggesting that we should all return to the country, but rather that the causes (and cures) of such ills are deep rooted in modern, urban, culture and that radical changes in the way we live would be necessary to achieve anything other than mere containment.
Andrew, Spain

Bring back national service as a punishment for the anti-social. It would get them off the streets and it would teach them discipline. It would probably be cheaper to enforce in the long run than chasing fines as well.
Duncan, London, UK

If the police weren't so busy trying to catch speeding motorists, maybe there would be a better police presence on the streets to ward off this kind of behaviour. These kids know they can get away with it and fining them won't help. Like someone else said, we need a solution, not a vicious circle.
R. A., Midlands - UK

Bring back the youth clubs
Steve G, UK
I used to spend 5 evenings a week working with local kids in a youth club. The council closed down that youth club to make it into a centre for educating young single mothers. So basically they got rid of a way of keeping kids off the street and reducing the chances of problems to patching up things afterwards. Now people complain the kids have nothing to do and will get up to mischief? Bring back the youth clubs as well and bring these rules into place. We are meant to be a society that can live in harmony. Lets have some deterrents for anti-social people!
Steve G, UK

Reading this column I decided to read the bill, not finished yet but I read something I already knew but like so many forgot!
"Young people are more often the victims of crime and anti-social behaviour than the perpetrators. Parents and families can usually cope with the normal problems and challenges of growing children or if a problem becomes more serious, are very willing to work with others to deal with it."
Most of what I read from this paper refers to Parents and people older than 17 people, I think people commenting on this bill are really missing the point!
Anon, UK

Again we see the UK adopting US policies. It is not about introducing harsher punishments, it is about educating youths, giving them advice and helping them to try and understand the role they should be playing to contribute towards a decent, respectable society.
James K., Chester / UK

This scheme has already been a success in the areas where it has been piloted. Anti-social behaviour has reduced, and only 2% of offences committed in the pilot areas have ended up in the courts, thus saving huge amounts of time and money. My only concern is over-zealous enforcement. You can't persecute young kids simply for hanging out with their mates.
John, England

Law and order in the United Kingdom has broken down
K Budden, England
The problem is not a lack of laws, it is a lack of enforcement. Law and order is not produced by Politicians standing up and firmly waffling in the house of Commons, it is produced by an effective Police Force on the streets. The Police force needs to be double what it is today, anything less will not work. Law and order in the United Kingdom has broken down, the Government and the Police have lost control because there are not enough Police.
K Budden, England

Can I remind people that these hooligans are in a minority. The majority of young people are honest, hardworking and respectful of others, who constantly have to put up with being branded hooligans by older members of society, simply because of their age. This is a long-term problem that needs to be solved through government intervention, i.e. providing the youth with youth clubs and similar establishments to prevent boredom, education in schools about the consequences of anti-social behaviour and the dangers of drug abuse, as well as educating parents.
Katie, UK

Tougher rules on anti-social behaviour are necessary
Martin, UK
Tougher rules on anti-social behaviour are necessary because we now have a small proportion of young people who have no sense of right and wrong. This is a consequence of the focus on moral relativism in the last few decades. In the name of equality, we have effectively said "anything goes" and allowed a complete abrogation of responsibility by a minority of parents and children. Blaming society for their "problems" will not bring them back into the mainstream. Perhaps tougher policing won't, either, but the law-abiding majority at least deserve to be protected. We mustn't make the same mistake in future generations: clear codes of morality and behaviour are needed.
Martin, UK

Aren't we going back a few centuries, making begging an offence? It's the only way for most homeless people to get money. and if they get criminal records for begging, what inducement to they have to break out of their circumstances? What is the point of bettering themselves when they have been branded a beggar for life? and how would they ever get a job in the future if they have a criminal record... for nothing more than sitting a street corner, holding their hand out? You cannot, under any circumstances, criminalise people for begging until there is no more need for people to beg... and in the current economic climate, that is impossible.
Elizabeth, England

How ridiculous some people are!! The issue for younger people, and for all I guess, is how we communicate with them. Thinking that punishments or liberal 'understanding' will do the job is the same as mopping up water and not turning the tap off. I hear how many adults talk to kids in schools and elsewhere and I'm not surprised the kids end up feeling 'fed up'. I've noticed that some adults don't even know how to relate to kids, that is, how to listen and make contact with them!
Andrea, England

Where are these kids going to get the money from to pay the fines?
Simon Moore, EU
Absolute rubbish. Where are these kids going to get the money from to pay the fines? And if they can't pay, what happens? They can't be imprisoned because they're not old enough. This is the usual vacuous rubbish from a government who have proved themselves to be totally inept at solving any problems whatsoever. It doesn't matter what the penalty for a crime is if the people committing the crime seriously think they don't have any chance of getting caught.
Simon Moore, EU

David Blunkett's suggestion is based upon the mistaken assumption that giving the police more powers will act as a deterrent to would be delinquents. What is needed is not a few police officers with many powers but many police officers with few powers.
Why? Because police powers only act as a deterrent when the criminal believes that he or she will get caught and there are too few police officers operating in besieged communities to convince criminals that there is a real danger of arrest. Moreover, great powers, such as the power to part a person from his or her cash without a trial are great temptations to the kind of corruption in the police force from which this country has thus far been mercifully spared.
Michael Lakey, UK

Many of the comments suggest that physical punishment is required. Other European countries have the same restrictions on the use of physical punishment than those applied in the UK. In Sweden there are severe restrictions on parents using physical punishment against their own children. Perhaps someone could explain why British children will only respond to violence while other Europeans behave themselves without such a threat. Of course children should learn to respect adults but you don't gain that respect by saying "Do as you're told or I'll beat you up".
Simon, UK, UK

It is a positive step in the right direction
Andrew Bailey, UK
As long as officers keep using their discretion and common sense I believe a fixed penalty system would work. The amount of money spent putting offenders through the courts is ridiculous when you are aware of the low sentences and fines that are received. It is a positive step in the right direction and will be a useful tool in tackling anti-social behaviour.
Andrew Bailey, UK

News laws and measures are toothless without the will or manpower to back them up.. "Give us more police and put them out on the streets" That would make a difference!
Graham, UK

What happened to judge and jury? I strongly believe anti-social behaviour should be punished but I don't trust the police not to abuse these new powers to indulge their prejudices.
Emma, UK

Forget about sex education, drug education etc etc. Just concentrate on some basic morals!!
Anon, UK

What reactionary nonsense. Adults have always complained about teenagers running amok. I suggest that if they're so concerned they should volunteer at a youth club and actually talk to and help some young people, rather than advocating violence against what are, essentially, children.
Victoria, UK

I agree that today is no different from ten years ago or thirty years ago. Kids are still just as bored, just as menacing, using the same amount of drugs (different letters of the alphabet now probably), smoking the same, painting the street the same and being kids. Goodness, I'm glad I am not a kid today with all these rules.
Adam, St Albans

I'm sorry but I don't think Victoria and Adam from St Albans live in the real world. In my area kids ride motorbikes on the pavements, knock down garden walls, set fire to dumped cars and generally cause a lot of nuisance to residents young and old. This is not 'child's play', this is wanton hooliganism and it needs to be stopped. I am only 30 but during my lifetime I have seen a loss of respect for the law, other people and their possessions. This respect needs to be instilled into young people as a matter of urgency, otherwise we risk social chaos.
Jonathan, England

If David Blunkett is so troubled by the fact that children cycle on the pavements, perhaps he could get Alastair Darling to make the roads safer.
Kevin Grain, England

Punish the parents as well
Hugh, England
Punish the parents as well. Even bad parents will have some incentive to lick their brats into shape if they are fined for the behaviour of their young yobs.
Hugh, England

I think all these anti social youths should go and live with the liberal mind people who give them so much leniency.
Jess Chavez, UK

What use will any of these laws be to 8 to 16-year-olds, smashing windows, spraying graffiti, sticking lighted matchboxes through letterboxes in old people's flats, hanging around in gangs outside shops, throwing chip papers and pizza boxes down the high street? None, because the government deems them not responsible as they are too young! What absolute rubbish - the kids know they can get away with it!
Mark Hill, England

All very well Mr Blunkett but we suffer from eggs, stones etc thrown at our house, we suffer noise swearing, hooligans urinating against our house, bins being turned over, cars being revved up and raced at all hours. The only thing we do not suffer is the noise of a police car or the firm step of a policeman. Until you actually put Police in the suffering areas and at the appropriate times you will have no effect whatsoever on the problem.
Adam Weir, Scotland

I remember as a 15 year old escorting a friend's 7 year old sister home. It was down a long main road with an unused pavement at the side. I told her she should cycle on the pavement as it was safe, I would ride alongside her on the road. We were stopped by the police and I was told off for having her ride on the pavement. That was 30 years ago. As an adult I still think that the policeman was being stupid and officious. Now I suppose I would get a fixed penalty fine and have a criminal record to look back on. The laws are sufficient as they are. The problem is in the courts who consistently side with the criminal and the vested interest in keeping the overpaid and overbearing court system in place.
Simon Mallett, UK

What should be done with young thugs and vandals is whatever scares them the most. Usually, this is the threat of superior violence. If just one habitual offender were to be publicly flogged - yes, I am serious - the other little cowards would think twice. Sadly, the inanity of the PC brigade, and this talk big but do nothing government, would never allow the little darlings to pay such a price. So it will go on, until people feel they have no option but to take the law into their own hands, perhaps with fatal consequences.
Charles, Birmingham, England

We need a solution, not a vicious circle
John Smith, UK
I support the idea in principle, but I'm left wondering where these "yobs" will get the 80 from - perhaps they'll resort to more yobbish behaviour, burglary and robbery. We need a solution, not a vicious circle.
John Smith, UK

A lot of anti-social behaviour problems could be solved by locking up more of the middle class! This will continue to be a problem while a system exists where offences such as speeding (which kills people) do not have parity of disgrace with burglary. As for locking up beggars, how about more money for the homeless?
Ben Eaton, UK

For me, anti-social behaviour is often the result of a combination of two things: lack of money and boredom. Unless children have something to do, after-school say, they will continue to be anti-social. On a recent trip to Bolton, I saw a National Lottery funded Sports Centre near the city centre which charges 30p (very cheap as it is subsidised) to come and do whatever sport they what and, more importantly, enjoy themselves. This will obviously bring kids off the street in a humane way, brings a community spirit together, brings employment to the area and will cut down on anti-social behaviour. It sounds great - I wish I was 13 again!
Ian, UK

The youth battle has been lost. I'm 33 and remember being unruly - but always had underlying respect of adults. This is what's missing and I can't see how to get it back. Lack of "old school" punishment is definitely the factor. I don't accept this "nothing for them to do" rubbish - there was nothing to do for us. We made our own entertainment - bike rides, football, model making, Cubs & Scouts, parks. They expect everything for nothing and I'm scared for the future of my own two young boys. All I can do is guide them to what's wrong or right and hope they don't get mixed up with kids that have lost the way.
Steve V, UK

Having been on the receiving end of juvenile harassment while living in Feltham, I feel that (1) The offenders parents should be made responsible (2) The police should be forced to take more interest in these cases. If kids are allowed to continue to reoffend, they continue to make their victims lives miserable and they learn that they are above the law. Just imagine what sort of adults they will become.
Neale, UK

Since the powers of disciplining children were removed from school teachers by our European masters, we have had an ever increasing problem of children growing up knowing no boundaries. Then the establishment goes into shock horror when we have kids running amok.
D. Blakemore, UK

I don't buy the excuses about kids having nothing to do, that's always been the case. What is needed is better policing and more discipline in the home and at school. Young children have realised that, up to a certain age, they are untouchable by parents, teachers and the police. Is it any wonder they're running amok!
Chris Gledhill, England

It is the constant erosion of family which fosters a rootless generation with no stake in family, hence no stake in society, hence anti-social. As with all complex issues, the solutions are to be found at the base of the pyramid, not at the apex.
Stefan, UK

What about their responsibilities to their families, their society and their country?
Kate, England
I think David Blunkett has the right idea, although as others have mentioned, implementation of that idea may be tricky. I think that the core of this problem stems from a lack of responsibility in society as a whole. Big corporations, an overly controlling government and the general breakdown of local communities and wider society have taken the control of our own behaviour out of the hands of the everyman. People are very quick to demand their rights and claim their freedom, but what about their responsibilities to their families, their society and their country?
Kate, England

There is absolutely nothing for teenagers to do out of school which does not involve spending a lot of money. The government could save itself millions in the long run if it brings back after school clubs, cheap/free leisure centre access, cheap/free cinema showings.
Vish, UK

Having just returned from Germany one thing that was very obvious was the level of visible policing. The trains/stations had transport police patrolling. The city centres had police parked in strategic areas for the public to go to, and there were officers regularly patrolling the streets.. It is very clear that UK policing policy of putting officers in cars has not worked to cut crime. It's time to get back to basic policing again!!!
Paul, UK

Any legislation that will help to reduce anti-social behaviour should be welcomed. However, the introduction of 80 on the spot fines will prove very difficult to implement. How does Mr Blunkett propose to make these young offenders pay the fines imposed? Perhaps a couple of years national service would help to sort them out.
Linda, England

If cycling on the pavement is going to be an offence, the least the government could do is make the streets safe for cyclists, especially children!
Tom, UK

Youngsters don't have anything better to do
David, UK
The root cause of this, as with all of the country's problems, is education. Youngsters don't have anything better to do because they aren't taught the basics of speech and language, let alone constructive entertainment. Clear out the endless, admin-ridden national curriculum in favour of more effective teaching of skills. Take useless things OFF the curriculum as well as adding critical things. One day, youngsters will develop their own morals and interests instead of being bogged down with 5 hours of meaningless homework nightly.
David, UK

I think more needs to be done to empower (and therefore fund) local communities to come together and tackle their problems themselves. Community Chests (as they are called) could provide a powerful lever to forge partnerships across communities - involving young and old, black and white, men and women - to hear each other's concerns and work to find common ground.
Jon, UK

As there are no ID cards in this country how will an 'on the spot fine' work? Most young people who are drunk and making a nuisance of themselves will not be carrying 80 in cash and will simply give a false name and address if fined. I know I would have at that age!
Pete, UK

I'm not against the proposals per se, it's just that they won't work. Blunkett is only attempting to tackle the symptoms of a wider social problem. I'd like to see the government being a lot more intelligent and look at social inequality, wealth gaps, the power of corporations etc, rather than taking the easy way out all the time.
David, England

Heavy fines and community sentencing to both hooligans and their parents should help the problem. They have to know the majority of decent citizens will not accept it.
J K, Merseyside, UK

The criminal needs to be totally responsible for the repair/undoing of their action
Tom, UK
On the spot fines of up to 80 will achieve absolutely nothing. The link between criminal action and effect needs to be made paramount. This means that the criminal needs to be totally responsible for the repair/undoing of their action. If they smash up a car, they replace it. If they crash into a wall, they rebuild it. If they cycle on the pavement and cannot be responsible for their own behaviour, they are no longer permitted to cycle. They carry out the crime, now it is up to them to repair the damage they have carried out, not us, not the insurers, not the victim.
Tom, UK

The yob culture could be solved in one go. Recruit 16 year olds into the army for five years to learn discipline, responsibility and a career. This will remove them off the streets, cut the wanton vandalism and intimidation. The country would benefit because we would have a fully trained army for any future conflict.
Moira Acton, England

In response to Moira Acton: brilliant. Remove an entire generation from society, teach them complete dependency on strict discipline and a distinct lack of initiative, then put them back into society unqualified and lacking the skills required to be an effective member of society. We need people who think like that like we need a war
Andy, UK

Bring back the stocks!
Paul, UK

If the people of a nation have grown up in such a manner as to be reckless and have 'behavioural problems', there isn't much any regulations, rules or laws can do to fix that. It's simply a matter of upbringing, and we wouldn't like the government to begin poking around in our own homes, now would we? As for the drug laws, when will the government realise that if someone wants something badly enough, they will try to get it no matter how many laws they break?
Christian, UK




SEE ALSO:
Blunkett targets yob culture
12 Mar 03 |  Politics


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