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Title: Disrespecting youth : anti-social behaviour experience, perceived risk and policing policy
Author: Hulley, Susannah Mary
ISNI:       0000 0001 3584 1721
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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Anti-social behaviour (ASB) has become a political and popular issue in Britain over the last decade. The legal definition of ASB is broad, intentionally requiring subjective assessment of the term. This is framed within an assumption that ASB represents the rejection of commonly recognised conventional values. Any variations, in the extent to which specific behaviours are identified as problematic in an area, are considered to reflect experiences therein. Accordingly, recent developments in policing policy require local Neighbourhood Police Teams to prioritise and target behaviours identified as 'signal crimes' or 'signal disorders' during consultation with local people. Theoretically rooted in the Signal Crime Perspective, signal crimes and disorders are behaviours that cause disproportionate concern to local people. This thesis argues that the subjective conceptualisation of ASB and these developments in Neighbourhood Policing have led to the ASB agenda disproportionately impacting on young people. This is despite the government's claim that ASB is "not a youth issue" and the Home Office requirement that ASB be interpreted based on the behaviour itself, rather than using youth as the defining factor. Rather, Matza suggests that deviant behaviour represents an exaggeration of subterranean values that permeate conventional society: it is the context in which such values are displayed that determines the acceptability of the behaviour. Interactionist theorists argue that meanings of behaviour are determined through interactions, so that interpretations of deviance will depend on factors other than the behaviour itself. Taken together, these theoretical contributions suggest that rather than ASB representing a pool of commonly recognised behaviours, behaviour will be variably defined as anti-social according to who is involved in the interaction (the 'labeller', victim and perpetrator) and the context in which the behaviour occurs. This thesis reports on a study conducted in Bexley, in South East London. Qualitative and quantitative methods are applied to determine the conceptualisation and experience of ASB amongst adult residents and local young people, as well as the process of ASB regulation by the local Neighbourhood Police Team. Results indicate that ASB is interpreted broadly, with adults particularly likely to attribute anti-social meanings to the behaviour of young people. As methods of police consultation primarily engage with local adults, the priorities developed by the police team focus on young people's behaviour and neglect their victimisation and concerns. The thesis concludes by offering principles on which to base interpretations of ASB, which seek to minimise such bias. Policy solutions are also suggested, to lessen the potentially damaging impact that the ASB agenda could have on young people in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available