Source: (2012) Journal of Criminal Law.. 76:53-70

This article examines the use of acceptable behavioural contracts as a tool for engendering the voluntary acceptance of responsibility in children and young people perceived to be engaging in anti-social behav- iour and low-level criminality. Based on the results of a qualitative empir- ical analysis with local government and social housing anti-social behaviour teams, the article explores the attitudes of practitioners to the use of this unregulated but commonly utilised intervention. Practitioners' views are contrasted with the ideals of voluntary responsibilisation upon which the contracts are supposedly based. It is argued that there is a spectrum of differing approaches among practitioners, with some using the contracts more to encourage the voluntary acceptance of responsibil- ity, whilst others use them more coercively to hold individuals responsible for their behaviour. The implications of these differing approaches are examined.(Author's Abstract)