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Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 462: debated on Monday 9 July 2007

There will be a review of the effectiveness of antisocial behaviour interventions and we think that the contract will be let some time in September or October this year. The hon. Gentleman will know that there have been extensive studies from a range of sources on the efficacy of antisocial behaviour interventions, and we have always sought to adjust the practice of implementing them accordingly.

According to Milton Keynes community safety partnership’s latest survey, a massive 72 per cent. of respondents listed antisocial behaviour as their principal concern, and only two weeks ago, a former Labour councillor was convicted of punching a young mother in the face outside a school in Milton Keynes. As actions speak louder than words, what will the Minister do to reassure my constituents that he is serious about tackling antisocial behaviour in Milton Keynes?

First, I would ask them to find another MP, rather than one who treats a serious matter in such a cheap and partisan fashion. My hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, South-West (Dr. Starkey) is more than aware of the antisocial behaviour difficulties with which the partnership in Milton Keynes is dealing and I would venture to say that she has done a tad more than the hon. Member for North-East Milton Keynes (Mr. Lancaster) to try to resolve those matters—good luck to her.

My hon. Friend is no doubt aware of the success of antisocial behaviour orders in assisting communities to tackle the problem of antisocial behaviour. May I draw one aspect of the issue to his attention so that he is aware of it when he carries out the review? Police officers in my area are concerned that when somebody breaches an ASBO and they are taken back to the magistrates court, the matter is not treated severely enough, given that it is a severe breach of a court agreement. Will my hon. Friend take that into consideration when he carries out the review?

Many people up and down the country have expressed that concern relating to communities. I will seek to ensure that the subject of the efficacy and effectiveness of the local magistracy when dealing with repeat breaches of antisocial behaviour interventions is part of the broader review that we will take forward towards the end of the year; I agree with my hon. Friend on that.

May I tell my hon. Friend that we have had considerable success with antisocial behaviour interventions in Salford? In fact, there have been almost 900 different types of interventions and 40 antisocial behaviour orders. That has resulted in crime falling by 13 per cent. overall; in particular, criminal damage has been reduced. However, we do have some way to go. On the review, does my hon. Friend agree that councillors working with the safer neighbourhood teams will ensure success? That is what has happened in Salford to make our antisocial behaviour interventions so successful.

My hon. Friend is entirely right. Anyone who is fair and consensual, as I am, would acknowledge that Liberal Democrat and Conservative councils across the country, and the odd recalcitrant Labour council, are finally getting on board in dealing with antisocial behaviour—the police have certainly been on board for a long time. My hon. Friend is right: the system is at its most powerful when all those local partnerships come together and draw up a broader antisocial behaviour strategy for the entire region, rather than just focusing on recalcitrant individuals.