In the ten years of New Labour under Tony Blair, law and order policy in the United Kingdom was characterised by radical extensions of summary powers to police and local authorities to ‘take on the wrongdoers’ and to tackle ‘anti-social behaviour’. The Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) was the flagship measure of this aggressive law and order policy, and the UK was then in the grip of what has been described as ‘Asbomania’. This approach to law and order was founded on the view that traditional criminal justice values, born in this country, exported around the world — equality of arms, the presumption of innocence and the proportionate and dispassionate meting out of punishment by the state, those values that preceded the post-war universal human rights consensus and became so central to it — simply will not do. They are neither fundamental and inalienable nor even potentially expendable. Instead, their disposal is a matter of social duty and considerable urgency.
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