Not often I agree with George Monbiot, writing in the Guardian:
All this is about to get much worse. On Wednesday the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill reaches its report stage (close to the end of the process) in the House of Lords.
It is remarkable how little fuss has been made about it, and how little we know of what is about to hit us.
The bill would permit injunctions against anyone of 10 or older who “has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person”. It would replace asbos with ipnas (injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance), which would not only forbid certain forms of behaviour, but also force the recipient to discharge positive obligations. In other words, they can impose a kind of community service order on people who have committed no crime, which could, the law proposes, remain in force for the rest of their lives.
The bill also introduces public space protection orders, which can prevent either everybody or particular kinds of people from doing certain things in certain places. It creates new dispersal powers, which can be used by the police to exclude people from an area (there is no size limit), whether or not they have done anything wrong.
So it’s going to be illegal to annoy anybody? I bet that smoking will be the very first forbidden form of annoying behaviour. And the accompanying community service order will be to attend a smoking cessation course.
The new injunctions and the new dispersal orders create a system in which the authorities can prevent anyone from doing more or less anything. But they won’t be deployed against anyone. Advertisers, who cause plenty of nuisance and annoyance, have nothing to fear; nor do opera lovers hogging the pavements of Covent Garden. Annoyance and nuisance are what young people cause; they are inflicted by oddballs, the underclass, those who dispute the claims of power.
These laws will be used to stamp out plurality and difference, to douse the exuberance of youth, to pursue children for the crime of being young and together in a public place, to help turn this nation into a money-making monoculture, controlled, homogenised, lifeless, strifeless and bland. For a government which represents the old and the rich, that must sound like paradise.
This sounds like a law that can be used against anybody – not just young people – for doing absolutely anything that’s in the least bit annoying.
But it may turn out to be two-edged. After all, I think that I could claim that Tobacco Control measures are all an extremely annoying nuisance, and the people working in it would be better off doing some sort of community service, sweeping streets.
I wonder if pulling silly faces counts as ‘being annoying’? Or laughing or tittering? Or blowing raspberries?
Who cares. These people are beyond crazy, and I never voted for any of them.
Curious video of construction worker moving huge blocks of concrete single-handed: