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The News From All Over Issue

Anti-socials

Last year I travelled up and down Britain for six months to meet and take photographs of people with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. In case you didn't know, an ASBO is something invented by the Labour government to give out to people who are seen as a...

by Alex Sturrock
Aug 1 2007, 12:00am


PHOTOS AND TEXT BY ALEX STURROCK


Last year I travelled up and down Britain for six months to meet and take photographs of people with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. In case you didn’t know, an ASBO is something invented by the Labour government to give out to people who are seen as a menace to the community they live in. I decided to do this because at the time there was so much coverage on things like “chavs” and “ASBOs” in the tabloid press that I wanted to find out what life was really like for the people who’d been labelled “anti-social” by the government. Originally, only a limited number of ASBOs were meant to be handed out and then only under very special circumstances. Once they started making front page headlines, however, the government started chucking them out like they were lottery tickets. When I began the project, over 9,853 people had ASBOs. At one point the rate of increase was so dramatic that if it had continued most of the country would have their own personal ASBO by the end of the decade. I wonder what mine would have been for?
 

Click on images to enlarge Carl Wareham, 20, received a five-year order banning him from entering the village of Lytchett Matravers. He is also banned from the local pubs and off licenses. He told me that although he was a serial offender when he was young he received his ASBO after being the subject of only two minor charges over a period of several years.
  Billy is from Dagenham in Essex. He has an ASBO for hoarding rubbish and livestock in his house. When the council cleaned his house they removed over 20 tons of rubbish in 700 bin bags.
  Adam Rooney, 20, told me he had only ever had two minor charges against him before he and his twin brother, Liam, were given ASBOs. Liam is now in prison for breaching his ASBO and Adam's picture is on the back of buses on three local bus routes. Adam now finds it impossible to get a job. I arranged another meeting with Adam after I took this picture, but when I arrived I found out he was in custody again.
  Bobby, 13, (left) and Craig, 11, (right) pictured with their mum and sister. After both boys received ASBOs, Craig made the front page of the local paper and leaflets were distributed with his name and face on. Craig now finds himself on the receiving end of threats and abuse from adults in the street.