Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, has been expanding on the Conservative Party’s agenda around tackling antisocial behaviour in a speech to the centre right think tank, Policy Exchange. (See here for our post on a speech Mr Grayling gave the LGA in February.)
In this more recent speech he sets the scene with a story about an estate in the Midlands:
An evening of under-age drinking leading to trouble and nuisance right across the estate.
Not just the occasional under age pint.
But bottles of vodka – bought by disinterested adults – fuelling mounting nuisance for all the other residents – young and old.
And if the police are called, the troublemakers just melt away into back alleyways – or disappear into homes where a small number of inebriated and reckless parents ply them with still more alcohol.
Mr Grayling goes on to say that this sort event illustrates a society that is loosing its way and that action is needed to stop these events, what he calls a “war on antisocial behaviour”.
He is critical of the government’s approach, which he argues is too indiscriminate; dispersal orders apply to those doing nothing wrong as much as they do to those who have been the cause of antisocial behaviour. He’s also critical of a rights based approach to children’s policy:
When I talked about fewer rights and more wrongs. I was particularly talking about teenagers. It’s about time we learned, as a society, as parents, as teachers, as police, to say no. It’s time we spent a bit more time worrying about the wrongs in our society, and a bit less about the rights of those who are disrupting it.
Mr Grayling argues that schools should be able to exclude pupils more easily, he says:
Teachers cannot be a substitute for effective parenting.
But schools can set the example even if some homes do not.
I think we need a firm approach on discipline in schools.
And we need to back our heads and teachers in enforcing that discipline.
He also calls for long sentences for adults that sell drugs to young people; but of course, as we know from the JRF research into this area, most young people buy their drugs from peers.