The British government is imposing “antisocial behavior orders” for minor but annoying offenses. The New York Times reports that since 1999, about 1,600 Britons have received orders as part of an aggressive effort to police behavior formerly under the purview of families or neighborhoods, like truancy, vandalism, and drunken brawling.
Authorities also can fine or jail the parents of children who chronically skip school, impose on-the-spot fines for drunkenness and defacing public property and evict “neighbors from hell” from public housing. Those served with antisocial orders can be banned from entering certain neighborhoods, hanging out with a particular group, wearing certain clothes or visiting members of their own families.
Some critics say the orders are too heavy-handed. Others say they are not used enough. “The antisocial orders have become almost a joke,” Norman Brennan of the Victims of Crime Trust. “They’re almost impossible to implement and very easy to break.”