Recently by David Higgerson
The predicted demise of the anti-social behaviour order will be mourned by many in the media. Since being introduced in 1999, they have been a source of many a good news story.
Sadly, to many they were a symbol of Labour's desire to push the state further out at every opportunity. ASBOs couldn't just be instigated by the police, councils could push one to court, as could housing associations. Then came the 'evidence' that they weren't working: trouble-making youths seeing them as a badge of honour, and the statistic that 55% of ASBOs were broken.
The coalition set out early on its plan to 'move beyond the ASBO.' That now appears to mean scrapping the ASBO and giving the police more powers to solve yobbish problems. The idea the Daily Telegraph (link above) particularly likes is the idea of a copper seeing a 'yob' vandalising a fence and making him repair it on the spot.
Brilliant. Instant justice. But what happens next time, and the time after that? Is being supervised by a policeman to repair a fence any less of a badge of honour to the cretins who commit anti-social behaviour than an ASBO? Of course not.
And here's where the negative myths around ASBOs do some real damage. The interpretation of 55% of ASBOS being broken be proof that ASBOs don't work is simply wrong.
On Monday, the perma-tanned health secretary Andrew Lansley was doing a live interview with Sky News from a beach in Anglesey. I think we can all agree it is unlikely he collected his Ronseal sheen from spending Christmas in North Wales.
He was already on dodgy territory politically - the subject of the interview was his decision not to run the flu advertising campaign. The facts were quite simple: In Scotland, where the campaign had run, take-up of the flu vaccine was higher than in England, where Lansley had insisted GPs should contact at-risk patients directly.
Lansley insisted that there was no need for a vaccination campaign because GPs could be trusted to get in contact with the right people. But what he failed to appreciate is that one, probably round-robin, letter from the GP wasn't having the same impact as the 'catch it, bin it, kill it' campaign which crops up in day-to-day life time and again.
One of the over-riding grumbles from Parliament last week was that if Vince Cable was a Tory, he'd have been kicked out by now.
Probably true - but that perhaps says more about this current crop of Tory ministers than it says about Cable, a man who seems to be the Pied Piper of the left-leaning element of his party in a way no other is.
Can any Tory minister currently lay claim to have such a role with a faction of the Conservative Party? And even if they did, would any faction of the Tories really want to rock the boat when things, through blue-tinted glasses, appear to be going so well?
The expenses scandal, it isn't. But the Daily Telegraph's clever ploy of sending in journalists to pose as constituents certainly tells us a lot about politicians in general.
And we've learnt that Saint Vince Cable is human. Prone to boasting a bit, he's now looking a bit silly. But reports of the death of his political career are surely greatly exaggerated.
Today's coverage of Cable hanging on to his job as business secretary - but losing the right to decide whether Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation can take full control of BSkyB - contains several phrases which come up time and again: Lame duck, less powerful as a result, weaker and so on.
In November 2003, a 12-year-old girl called Amy Houston died after being hit by a car driven by a failed asylum seeker called Aso Mohammed Ibrahim.
Ibrahim ran away from the scene, in Blackburn, leaving Amy to die under the vehicle. Since that dreadful night, it appears the powers that be have conspired against Amy's father, Paul Houston, in his quest for justice.
First off, there was the sentence Ibrahim received. Ibrahim, who was disqualified from driving, was given a four-month jail term for driving without insurance and while disqualified and failing to stop after an accident.
It was a sentence which angered many, and Paul embarked on a campaign for 'Amy's Law' which sought tougher sentences for those who drove while disqualified - the theory being that you're disqualified for a reason so if you drive and hurt or kill someone, you've done so in the knowledge you weren't fit to drive. It was a campaign the newspaper in Blackburn which I worked for at the time got behind. I got to know Paul well during that time.
People in offices up and down the country love a good moan about IT departments, don't they?
People I know who work in IT know this and tend to respond by asking, tongue firmly in cheek often, whether 'you've turned it off and back on again.'
I'm not sure how IT people across the country will respond to the latest attack, though. It's from the prime minister in PMQs:
The right hon. and learned Lady asks about Greater Manchester, so let me answer specifically about Greater Manchester. First, the chief constable of Greater Manchester has said that his plans are putting "the maximum resources" on front-line policing, and I am not surprised he is able to say that, because here are the figures for the employment levels in the back-office functions: human resources, 187 people for that force; fleet vehicle maintenance, 106 people; finance, 106; IT- [Interruption.] Well, Opposition Members want to know the facts about Greater Manchester police, and these are the facts about Greater Manchester police. Guess how many people are involved in IT in Greater Manchester police: 225. This is the debate we ought to be having: how do we get resources from the back office on to the front line? How do we do it when right now only 11% of police officers are on the streets at any one time? That is the mess we have inherited; that is the mess we are going to clear up.
It was in response to a question about job cuts at Greater Manchester Police. Thousands of jobs are at risk, including some on the frontline.
You may remember that in the run-up to the general election, Cameron vowed to preserve frontline services. The way the Tories hoped for this to be interpreted was that the Tories would keep funding in place to protect frontline services. What he actually meant was that he expected frontline services to be maintained with less cash available.
Having worked as a political report and local government reporter, I've covered plenty of stories about wasteful spending in the public sector but there's a fine line between highlighting cases of poor spending and assuming all non-frontline services are cash rich and needless.
Rather like Labour, Cameron is trying to be clever with numbers. I suspect we're all supposed to be shocked by the fact GMP has 200 people in its IT department - but who are we to judge on whether that is realistic or not? I suspect if a computer system fails at GMP, then frontline policing is impacted instantly.
Those 106 people in the vehicle department. Is that unrealistic? How many vehicles do they look after? How many repairs do they do? Surely if the numbers were reduced and vehicles were off the road for longer, policing would be impacted as a result?
187 in HR? So what? If ever there was an organisation which will have a high HR need, it's a police force - even just dealing with the problems faced on the frontline. HR can be a very broad church in terms of roles, so what is Cameron saying? If an officer needs HR support after a traumatic incident, they should just buy self-help book?
The challenge facing Cameron is that he insists he is happy to devolve decisions to local areas, but then realises he has little, if any, control over the decisions made. Too often in the public sector, it's easier to slash on the frontline than it is to streamline.
Lancashire Police, for example, has given all its community support officers redundancy notices. They may not be full officers, but they are a frontline service. Whichever way you cut it, Cameron's frontline pledge pre-election proved hollow. Of course, he was a desperate man before the election, having thrown away a huge lead in the polls and fearful that he wouldn't win outright - which he didn't.
But turning now on the many people who work in back offices of authorities and creating the impression they are all a drain on taxpayers' cash is to forget that if they weren't there, the frontline staff would spend more time doing backoffice work.
Perhaps GMP can just scrap it's IT department and tell police officers to 'just switch it off and back on again.' Or maybe Cameron should stop stigmatising many thousands of hard-working people to score cheap political points. Context is key here, and Cameron, as in opposition, is having a struggle with context once again.
A rather odd statement from Prime Minister David Cameron when he came out of Number 10 to celebrate the engagement of the Prince William to Kate Middleton.
He said the announcement was greeted 'by a loud cheer and banging on the table.'
Really? Is that how the most powerful men and women in our country react to good news? They hit the table like a bunch of drunk rugby players on Mad Monday?
There was me thinking they were a grown up lot. Surely a round of applause would have been enough?
Good old Louise Ellman. Even when Labour were in power, she was a thorn in the side of the Government when it came to train policy. With a coalition government in place, she's now continuing the good fight for rail passengers.
Yesterday, in her role as chair of the transport select committee, Ellman called for health and safety legislation to be reviewed in light of increased overcrowding on trains.
The Rail Safety and Standards Board replied that such a move wasn't need as it was certain safety wasn't being compromised. But when you take into account the Board is run by the rail operating companies, it's no surprise that they'd say that, is it?
Amid the millions of words written and spoken about this week's student protests against increased tuition fees, one phrase sums it up for me.
When asked if she could hang around on Five Live to take more calls from listeners during a phone in, Clare Solomon, president of the University of London Union, replied:
"I can, but I need to get across to the Jeremy Vine show too."
Solomon is one of a number of students who are enjoying their 15 minutes in the spotlight following the demonstrations in London. She is one of the student leaders who hasn't got a problem with kicking in the huge windows at Tory HQ, staging a sit in protest, or lighting fires in the street. She does however, stop just short of condoning the throwing of a fire extinguisher off the roof of tall London building. So there's hope.
So now we know. Telling porkies in election leaflets can cost you the election, if you win. Phil Woolas has learnt that the hard way.
Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Lib Dems and no stranger to offensive political leaflets, says the first-time-in-99-years election court puts down a new line in the sand when it comes to the rough and tumble of political campaigns.
I don't think so. The line was always there, it's just a case that over the last 100 years many candidates have taken a chance that they can get away with smears, assuming that there won't be any comeback.