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Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 495: debated on Monday 6 July 2009

16. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department’s measures to combat antisocial behaviour. (283800)

Three independent reports confirm that our approach to tackling antisocial behaviour is working. The National Audit Office reported that two thirds of people stop committing antisocial behaviour after one intervention; the proportion rises to nine out of 10 after three interventions.

I thank the Minister for his reply. As he will know, in serious cases of antisocial behaviour, the victim, the police and the local authority have to work together to compile sufficient evidence to get the case to court. The period taken is far too long. What else can the Minister do to shorten that period and lessen the suffering of the victims of antisocial behaviour?

It is important that swift progress is made. It is also important that victims feel as if they are at the centre of the process. That is why we are looking not only at the time taken to bring cases to court, but at appointing people such as the victims’ champion to ensure that victims are at the heart of everything we do.

A form of antisocial behaviour that can affect a whole community is kerb crawling and prostitution. The residents of Chalvey in my constituency have taken to standing on the streets themselves to collect the car registration numbers of kerb crawlers. What comfort can the Minister give them that we will be more effective in tackling this kind of antisocial behaviour?

As my hon. Friend knows, we are bringing forward proposals in the Policing and Crime Bill to tackle the issues that she refers to in response to the concerns of local communities.

Could the Minister respond to a scenario whereby the local council is asked under the safety partnership scheme to provide funds to root out antisocial behaviour but has no money to do so? Who should then step in to make amends to the households that are being disturbed by such behaviour?

Local partnerships, of which local authorities are a key part, have a key role to play in tackling the problems in their local areas. Local councils have had increased budgets over the past few years in order to bring that to the table, and that is precisely what they should be doing. Residents have every right to look to the local authority, as well as to the police and other agencies, to step up to the mark with regard to antisocial behaviour.

What representations has my hon. Friend had from social landlords, local authorities and others about the effectiveness of means by which they can act as witnesses on behalf of those who are victims of antisocial behaviour? In so many instances, victims of such behaviour are too frightened to give evidence in their own right and instead look to others to act on their behalf, but in my experience there is a long way to go before we find that that is working effectively.

This is about building people’s confidence so that they feel confident in bringing forward their concerns about tackling antisocial behaviour. It is also about building confidence across the criminal justice system to ensure that in these circumstances people are seen as the victims, not as perpetrators. We talk to local authorities, the police and social landlords about a range of issues, and I am happy to talk further to my hon. Friend about this matter.

In relation to young people and antisocial behaviour, can the Minister say what discussions take place across Government Departments and with local authorities to provide facilities for young people? We want joined-up government that is tough on the causes of problems as well on those who create them.

That is an important part of what we do. Of course, we have to send out a strong enforcement message saying that if people get involved in antisocial behaviour and break the law, they should fear the consequences. Across Departments, we look to produce what are referred to as diversionary activities, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights when the problems are worst in local communities. We also work through organisations such as Positive Futures.