A short while back, we wrote this piece on the issue of anti-social behaviour in Basildon town centre and the impact this was having on the residents of Brooke House: Some thoughts on anti-social behaviour in Basildon town centre. A number of dispersal orders have been put in place to cover Basildon town centre. These provide short term relief for the residents of Brooke House, however as soon as the dispersal orders are lifted, the anti-social behaviour and the noise return.

Imposing dispersal orders may bring some temporary relief but they do not provide a long term solution. A long term solution to the issues in Basildon town centre requires holistic, joined up thinking. As we’ve written before, the problem is a complex mix of yobs from the surrounding estates coming into the town centre to kick off, plus a number of homeless people with complex issues. In an age of permanent austerity when spending on youth services has been slashed to the bone, there’s little in the way of help for troubled, disaffected, poorly socialised youths to get them back on track. As for the homeless who often have a lot of issues to deal with, instead of meaningful help, they’re demonised, de-humanised and shoved from pillar to post by a system that hasn’t got the resources to solve their problems and help them re-build their lives.

As for the residents of Brooke House who have to suffer the consequences of a lack of joined up thinking in dealing with anti-social behaviour in the town centre, their situation is made worse by the fact that many of them don’t want to be housed there: A housing policy unfit for purpose. When you look at the failure to provide a holistic solution to deal with issues arising from disaffected youth and homeless people creating disturbance in the town centre in conjunction with a housing policy that dumps families in totally unsuitable accommodation, the only term that can describe the situation is a clusterf**k.

A more technical term to describe what’s going on is system failure. The authorities are trying to keep up appearances with piecemeal ‘solutions’ such as dispersal orders but the brutal truth is that they do not have the resources, let alone the organisational capability to deal with a complex problem. It could be argued that in an age of permanent austerity when those on the margins of society are increasing demonised and de-humanised, the authorities don’t even have the will to attempt to find a holistic solution. System failures are a sign of the start of slow social collapse. The political, economic and social system we endure is running out of steam and ideas – we have to suffer the consequences of that in our everyday lives. The question is – how much longer are we prepared to put up with this?