Governments vary over place and time in their enthusiasm for cracking down on anti-social behaviour (ASB). It is therefore reasonable to ask why they should take on this responsibility, and why they should do so now. This chapter examines the results of a study that combined empirical research in five areas with a review of policy and research literature. In order to determine the rationales offered by policy documents and by local officials for tackling ASB, key officials responsible for tackling ASB were interviewed. Policy documents in five Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships in England and Wales were also reviewed. Although the research was conducted in 2003/04, its findings are still relevant to contemporary debate about ASB. The study found, both in the policy and research literature and in officials’ accounts of their work, four main rationales for tackling ASB: the quality of life rationale; the ‘broken windows’ rationale; the crime fighting or zero tolerance rationale; and the regeneration rationale.
The question addressed by this chapter may seem naive. For many, especially those who advocate firm action against anti-social behaviour (ASB), it is self-evident that the central and local state should be engaged as vigorously as possible in efforts to crack down on anti-social behaviour. However, governments vary over place and time in their enthusiasm for doing so (cf Burney, 2005), and it is reasonable to ask why they should take on this responsibility, and why should they do so now.
Criminal Justice Process and Institutions