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Although anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) are a relatively recent development in criminal justice policy in Britain, they have nonetheless been an extremely topical area of law and policy for some years. Despite considerable public support for the creation and use of ASBOs, much of the academic literature characterises the use of ASBOs as indicative of an increasingly authoritarian political and social agenda embodying marginalisation and social control.
Rather than presenting a wholly critical perspective on anti-social behaviour policy as borne out of politically opportunistic and reactionary motivations, this study argues that the creation of the ASBO, and latterly the introduction of the New Labour administration’s ‘Respect Agenda’, in fact represent a socially progressive attempt to address the pernicious and debilitating effects of anti-social behaviour which are most often felt by those with the least opportunity to escape it. The introduction of ASBOs can be characterised not necessarily as part of a ‘culture of control’ but as part of a shift towards a culture petitioning civic reciprocity.