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Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 459: debated on Wednesday 2 May 2007

4. What discussions he has had with the Home Secretary on tackling antisocial behaviour in Wales. (134262)

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on issues affecting Wales. We have introduced tougher antisocial behaviour measures than any previous Administration, which are designed to stamp out this blight on our communities.

The Penllwyn community partnership in my constituency has worked well with councillors and the police to combat the menace of antisocial behaviour. Far from being short term, costly and counter-productive, as suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, using legislation passed by this Government we have ensured that communities are empowered to tackle this nuisance. What measures are planned to ensure that people living in communities such as the Penllwyn will continue to be given help and support in order to improve the quality of life in their neighbourhoods?

I applaud what has been taking place in my right hon. Friend’s constituency and I know that he has taken a close interest in that. I assure him that if Labour is returned to power at Cardiff bay in the Assembly elections, we will introduce antisocial behaviour units in every local authority area, increase investment in the safer and stronger communities fund and increase fines for littering, graffiti and fly-tipping, because all of those activities are a blight on a our local neighbourhoods. As my right hon. Friend has pointed out, such measures are often opposed by the Conservatives, the nationalists and the Liberal Democrats. Therefore, they should, perhaps, join together and form a Government if they get the chance, as they have been continuously working together in opposition to undercut and undermine our Welsh Labour Government’s achievements.

When the Secretary of State has discussed with the Home Secretary the difficult issue of antisocial behaviour, has he raised a problem in Wales that is equally a problem in England? Families that suffer antisocial behaviour from neighbours feel that the time scale for resolving the problem and the note-keeping and incident recording that they have to do is so extensive that it makes their lives unacceptably awful for too long. Can something be done to speed up the process, while maintaining a sense of justice in the system?

The hon. Gentleman makes a very serious point, and we must make sure that we monitor this issue and chase up on it. He is right: a neighbour from hell is a hellish experience. I saw that for myself at Llandudno Junction, for example, a few months ago, where a particular household literally terrorised the local community to the point where people did not want to live in their own homes. Through tough antisocial behaviour legislation and the local council working with the police, action was taken, the family was moved and the neighbourhood has returned to stability.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the behaviour of the chief constable of north Wales in displaying pictures of a motorcyclist killed on a north Wales road, without the permission of the relatives of that person, could be considered extremely antisocial? Will my right hon. Friend join me in calling for the resignation of the chief constable?

I agree with my hon. Friend that this episode has caused enormous distress to the relatives of the victim, who were not even consulted in advance about this behaviour by the North Wales police chief constable. It is completely unacceptable, and I know that the Independent Police Complaints Commission is looking into it very seriously.

Grant Gronow, Jonathan Smith, Nathan John, Jessica Littleford, Stacey Hughes and Hannah Jones—the “Bryntirion six”—are young people who helped a woman who was being assaulted and robbed. They went to her aid while adults stood by, and they have been given a respect award. Will the Secretary of State join me in commending these young people, who demonstrate that not all young people are thugs? Many are decent law-abiding examples to adults of good behaviour.

I certainly join my hon. Friend in congratulating these young people from her constituency; they are an example to everybody and a model to others. This allows us to state, as she has, that only a tiny minority of youngsters behave in the yobbish fashion that gives rise to the need for antisocial behaviour legislation. The vast majority of young people are a good example to their community—as, indeed, are her constituents.