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Considering the above quote, is it acceptable to police 'nuisance', or should we only ever police crime?

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"Large groups of young single people, simply assemble in places that happen to catch their fancy. Their mere presence is a nuisance to people who want to use the streets and shopping centres in a more conventional way..." (Local Consultative committee, Wolverhampton in Graham et al 1996:20). Considering the above quote, is it acceptable to police 'nuisance', or should we only ever police crime? "Youthful incivility is closely associated with fear of crime" (Policing citizens page 46). However it is not only crime which strikes fear into people. As reported by the 'Atlantic online' website, we tend to overlook another kind of fear, the fear of being bothered by disorderly people. Not violent people, nor, necessarily, criminals, but disreputable or obstreperous or unpredictable people: and in particular, rowdy teenagers (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/crime/windows.htm). Maintenance of civility does not simply involve policing by law enforcement, but also enforcing a social discipline; a social discipline in which the creation of a harmonious neighbourhood and community, will allow people to reside in such places without fear as well as going about their everyday lives. Throughout decades, many communities have had to deal with anti-social behaviour from young people, who for whatever reason see it fit for themselves to cause distress to others by their actions. The term nuisance can vary in its application, this according to people's perceptions, but when discussing youth nuisance, those actions may consist of the following; sat drinking illegal substances in the park with friends, gathering on street corners, ...read more.


Parents set the example, they negotiate the rules, in which case they need to be held somewhat accountable for a child's actions until that child reaches adulthood. This case is not an instance of nuisance in terms of this essay, but is a criminal offence, however, it amplifies the fine line to what can start out as deviant circumstances, i.e. a group of 15 - 20 youths walking the streets in the early hours of the morning, creating a nuisance in that residents would be somewhat fearful, into an altercation and penultimately, murder. The point here; if the intitial nuisance was policed, a crime may not have had chance to run its course. In instances where behaviour is distressing fellow residents of a community, the adults need to show a cohesive dismay at anti-social behaviour, in order to show the youths that their actions are unreasonable; otherwise they may not see what they do as harmful to others. "Although not necessarily wrong or a crime, young people's behaviour can still cause people to be annoyed, intimidated or live in fear of crime. Young people are not necessarily aware that other people can be affected by their behaviour" (http://www.renewal.net/Documents/Overview/Crime/Youthnuisance.DOC). Some measures to tackle nuisance behaviour have been sought: 'Neighbourhood Agreements' to address anti-social behaviour by setting standards and targets are drawn up by some communities. Voluntary and charity groups such as 'NACRO' may run mediation or advice services that can help communities sort out their problems with youth nuisance. ...read more.


To add further weight to this argument, we can look at how the broken windows theory applied by social psychologists can result in nuisance leading to crime. The theory is of the belief that; "A piece of property is abandoned, weeds grow up, a window is smashed. Adults stop scolding rowdy children; the children, emboldened, become more rowdy. Families move out, unattached adults move in. Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. The merchant asks them to move; they refuse. Fights occur. Litter accumulates. People start drinking in front of the grocery; in time, an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off". The theory has been strengthened, by looking at some of the most run down estates in the United Kindgom, when a deserted house has a window broken, it doesn't take long before the building becomes more of a liability than a worthy residential property. The broken window theory is an example, of how letting such things as that, or in the case of this essay, a group of rowdy youths, can eventually lead to anti-social behaviour and ultimately crime. Young people may feel victimised if they are constantly being watched, be it by local residents, or in most cases of nuisance complaints, the police. It is however, vitally important that residents be allowed to live without fear or intimidation, and whether the rowdy gang of youths on the street corner empathise with this or not, it needs to be sought to be implemented, not only for the residents but for the future of the youths too. ...read more.

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