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Home Office offers online help for thugs

Sorry, 'anti-social behaviour practitioners'

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Those suffering the blight of teen ne'er-do-wells racing stolen cars around their housing estate while high on glue and rap music will doubtless welcome the UK Home Office's Together initiative.

Here's what it's all about:

At its very core TOGETHER puts the community first. TOGETHER is committed to listening to those voices in the community who have suffered from ASB [anti-social behaviour], to understanding their issues, to addressing their problems.

The site classifies anti-social behaviour as:

A variety of behaviour covering a whole complex of selfish and unacceptable activity that can blight the quality of community life. Other terms such as 'nuisance', 'neighbour disputes' and 'disorder' are also used to describe some of this behaviour. A legal definition of behaving in an anti-social manner is found in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, this definition is used in relation to anti-social behaviour orders and further information on this can be found in the article below. Many agencies tackling anti-social behaviour have adopted this definition for more general purposes.

In short, it includes nicking motors, setting fire to your neighbours' bins, hurling racist abuse at ethnic minorities and all the other fun pastimes which make up the average day of the British thug.

Except they're not thugs. Nor are they "hooligans" or "yobs" or any other form of derogatory title. Nope, according to the Home Office, those who terrorise large swathes of inner-city Britain will henceforth be known as "anti-social behaviour practitioners". We can just imagine the scene:

Police officer: "Oi, get out of your neighbour's car and stop smoking that dope, you little sh*t."
Teen tearaway: "I ain't no little sh*t copper, cos the 'ome office says so. I'm an anti-social behaviour practitioner and me solicitor will have yer a*** for this slanderous outrage."
Police officer: "I do most sincerely apologise. Would you desist from your anti-social practices forthwith and accompany me to the nearest police station where counselling will be made immediately available?"
Teen tearaway: "Yeah, OK, as long as I get to drive."

We have been here before. Regular readers may remember the kerfuffle over the redesignation of speed cameras as "safety" cameras. That particular piece of Newspeak caused a few correspondents' heads to boil like kettles, so we reckon this ridiculous piece of linguistic flim-flammery will likewise hit the spot.

Bootnote

The usual heads-up to reader Alexander Livingstone, who spotted this nice example of 21st century lexicographical legerdemain.

Confession time

Ok - time to 'fess up: the phrase "anti-social behaviour practitioners" actually refers to those professionals dealing with anti-social behaviour, as the Home Office website makes clear. Just compare it to "medical practitioners" and it all makes sense. No wait, hold on a minute...

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