Skip to main content

Acceptable Behaviour Orders

Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

7. What representations he has received on plans to issue acceptable behaviour orders to first time offenders convicted of burglary. (141129)

Will the Minister therefore account for the fact that there have been very credible newspaper reports that the Government are planning to introduce antisocial behaviour orders or acceptable behaviour contracts for first-time offenders of burglary? Will the Government now take this opportunity to restore the balance in favour of the victims of burglary, such as the mother of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Amess), because the law has moved too far in favour of the offender rather than the victim?

The hon. Lady makes a reasonable point, but it is precisely the Government’s position that we expect people caught and charged with burglary to be put before the courts. That is what we expect. We do not expect behavioural interventions to happen for burglary, though it may be that, on conviction, a criminal sentence is given by the court, with an antisocial behaviour order applied as well as the criminal sentence. Intervention before, however, is not appropriate. As far as the Home Office is concerned, we believe that any burglar should be arrested, charged and put before the courts.

In relation to antisocial behaviour, will my hon. Friend consider having discussions with police forces up and down the country with a view to introducing a knives amnesty? Some years ago, the Coventry Evening Telegraph, together with the police, introduced a voluntary amnesty, which was very successful.

A knives amnesty is obviously a matter for local police forces, but we are prepared to consider any representations that we receive with respect to that or any other matter, including antisocial behaviour orders.

Acceptable behaviour orders may or may not be effective against some burglars, but what is beyond doubt is that many burglaries and other crimes are drug related. The Home Office has rightly taken up concerns about rising crime rates in my area, but at the same time has cut funding to the drug intervention programme by 11.5 per cent. in this financial year—with very little warning to the drug action team or other local drug and alcohol advisory teams. Is that not a bad example of joined-up government?

Before 2003, there was no such thing as a drug intervention programme. Furthermore, the £149 million that I believe we are spending on drug intervention programmes means that, for the first time, people arrested for drug-related offences now have an intervention programme that not only treats their drug-related addiction, but punishes them for the criminal activity that they have undertaken.