Very recently, we wrote this post about the impact of anti-social in Basildon town centre on the residents of Brooke House: Living a nightmare. The ward councillors and Essex Police are responding but, not wanting to sound churlish, the solutions suggested and the dispersal order that has been put in place are not going to solve the problem.
The anti-social behaviour issue in Basildon town centre is a complex mixture of the yobs coming in from the local estates to kick off plus a number of homeless people, some with issues such as alcohol and drug abuse. We’ll try to explain why a dispersal order is little more than a cosmetic public relations exercise that only serves to re-locate the problem and does nothing to solve the root causes.
In the case of the yobs, all a dispersal order does is move them somewhere else to create mayhem. It does nothing to stop them creating mayhem, let alone address the issues of why they want to do so. As we’ve written before, we’re in a process of slow social collapse. In such a process, people fall through the net. In an age of permanent austerity, the resources that could have been allocated to the dysfunctional households these yobs come from to help them get back on track no longer exist.
You don’t have to be a bleeding heart do gooder to recognise that prevention is better than dealing with a problem. Particularly when the resources to deal with the problem, the consequences of anti-social behaviour, are lacking. All we’re seeing at the moment is a knee jerk reaction which is people calling for more police rather than thinking about how to stop disaffected youth from kicking off in the first place.
The ideal solution would be strong communities where people look out for each other and households with issues get help and support from their neighbours that will keep them on track. That’s an ideal. In the here and now, we have to call for resources to be allocated to social services so they can intervene early and an education system, youth services and facilities that will give young people from dysfunctional households a purpose and a more positive outlook on life. Mind you, in an age of permanent austerity, this is pretty much an unrealisable ideal. So it may be worth exploring that idea of strong communities…
As for the homeless people in the town with addiction issues that will make them more likely to engage in what many see as anti-social behaviour, to be blunt, they’ve been thrown under the bus. The resources that are needed to sort out their issues and get them back on track are totally inadequate. All they have are the services offered by a handful of over-worked volunteers.
In an age of permanent austerity, what’s the response of the authorities? It’s simply to de-humanise the homeless, treat them as a nuisance and move them on, and then on again and again without addressing the issues that have forced them onto the streets in the first place. When someone has been de-humanised, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to treat them like shit than to put in the effort and resources to help them get their lives back on track.
These are initial thoughts. We’ll be having some more in-depth discussions about them over the next few weeks. Suffice to say, what’s needed is some considered, joined up thinking, real solutions that get to the root of the problem and the resources to deliver them.