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Antisocial Behaviour Orders

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

The numbers of antisocial behaviour orders issued at all courts in England and Wales during 2006 and 2007 were 2,705 and 2,299 respectively. ASBO data for 2008-09 are not yet available.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer, but does he agree it is important that people are aware that ASBOs are available? People are finding that one of the big problems is getting the relevant information to apply for them.

It is absolutely right that ASBOs should be one of the many tools available to forces and courts to ensure that they tackle antisocial behaviour. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has made it clear that ASBOs will continue to be, and should be, a major tool in helping to drive down antisocial behaviour still further. We want to make it simple for ASBOs to be exercised accordingly.

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that in 53 per cent. of cases where they were breached, those involved faced immediate custody. There is certainly a breach element, but, as the Home Secretary mentioned, we have accepted the fact that there are difficulties with breach. We intend to continue working to ensure that those ASBOs are completed: if the court exercises an ASBO it is important that it should be completed and that anyone breaching an ASBO should face immediate custody.

My right hon. Friend will realise that enforcement is vital to antisocial behaviour orders, so will he ask our right hon. Friend the Home Secretary whether he would consider writing to every chief constable and asking that every uniformed officer in their forces spend at least two hours performing high-profile policing duties in the community?

I think that many officers, including chief constables, already spend more than that amount of time doing community policing on the street. Neighbourhood and community policing are the focus of what the Government are trying to do, and I will give my hon. Friend the statistics to show that that is the case.

Will the Minister emphasise that community policing can reduce the need for and the incidence of ASBOs, not least in the Upton estate in Macclesfield? Is that not because the police are thereby establishing meaningful relationships with people, rather than being in a car and having no contact with them?

That is absolutely right, and I know that the hon. Gentleman will share my aspiration to strengthen and deepen community policing still further. It is absolutely right that the police are in contact with local people, that they identify their problems and draw up action plans with local councils to deal with them, and that ASBOs are used if necessary when solutions have failed, not as the first port of call.