Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hanging around

If you’re a young person, the mere fact of your existence is increasingly likely to terrify the neighbourhood:

The number of people who see teenagers hanging around the streets as a problem is increasing. British Crime Survey figures for January to December 2005 show 32 per cent of people interviewed saw the issue as a problem, compared with 29 per cent the year before.

Richard Garside, acting director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London, said that young people hanging around is the only one of the seven indicators of antisocial behaviour used by the Home Office that is not an offence in its own right. "Young people hanging around is not in itself a problem," he said. "But we can all recognise that there are situations where young people can appear intimidating."
Well, elderly people 'hanging around' with their mates can be pretty intimidating - and yesterday we observed three women having a shouted conversation across the street! Give 'em an ASBO! And how about curfewing men after 10 pm, because lone women get frightened that the man walking behind them may be about to attack?

On the other hand, the government could stop fanning the flames of irrational fear by conflating young people who 'hang around' with those who commit crimes.


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