Another government policy has been exposed for its ineffectiveness and its lack of proper analysis in to the problem before implementation. The Commons public accounts committee has reported that ASBOs are being handed out with little effect on anti-social behaviour in many circumstances. All this while anti-social behaviour not only makes lives a misery for many, it is costing the tax-payer £3.4bn a year. The report states that "Some 10 years after the first anti-social behaviour measures were introduced, no national evaluation of the effectiveness of the different anti-social behaviour interventions has been undertaken." It is classic New Labour (a tautology?) - grab the headlines by making it look as if you are doing something but not actually get to the bottom of the problem or solve it.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, has claimed that Labour "go on about the record number of Asbos given out whilst ignoring the fact that nearly two-thirds are breached." The real problems lies not so much that ASBOs are completely ineffective - in same cases they are - but rather there has been no research or central assessment on what the most appropriate initiative is.
I am often sceptical of the alarmist language opponents to ASBOs sometimes use - Edward Leigh, the Tory chairman of the Commons public accounts committee stated that town centres are "no-go areas" after dark and that "yobs" behave like "an occupying army loose in the streets". A little dramatic maybe, but there are still real problems that the government is failing to tackle simply because the act of doing something - anything - is more highly prized than solving the problem with proper research and insight.