Source: (2000) Social & Legal Studies. 9(3):347-366.

This article is concerned with the Crime and Disorder Act, introduced by the Labour government in England & Wales. The Act’s central aim is the reduction of crime and disorder within local communities, and young people are seen as the main locus of disorder. A range of new sanctions is provided to correct the behaviour of young people. The Act has been widely castigated for continuing the intolerance of the previous Conservative administration and showing scant awareness of the needs of young people. Young people are maintained in a subordinate position vis-à-vis society and the paternalistic nature of juvenile justice is reaffirmed. Such an interpretation would blind one to the innovations within the Act; drawing on the governmentality literature, it is suggested that youths are being encouraged to take greater responsibility for their actions and to attach themselves to an emotional community. The demise of a unitary notion of society means that young people must become active citizens, taking charge of their lives in accordance with the wishes of others; those who do not will bear the brunt of the coercion that is so evident within the Act. author's abstract