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Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 532: debated on Monday 12 September 2011

This Government are clear that reducing antisocial behaviour is core business for the police and their local partners. Current action includes highlighting effective practice that will help professionals to improve their response to victims and communities, setting out proposals for more effective powers, and making more data available to the public.

We know that nearly two thirds of under-16-year-olds breach their antisocial behaviour orders. Will the Minister reassure my constituents that despite the protests of the shadow Home Secretary, ASBOs will be replaced with effective sanctions that will actually tackle antisocial behaviour?

My hon. Friend has made an important point about the measures available to professionals on the front line who are dealing with antisocial behaviour. We are keen to ensure that they have discretion to deal with problems in their localities, and can act speedily to bring relief to communities that are suffering from such behaviour. That is the focus of the Government, that is what we have been consulting on, and we will present our response to the consultation in due course.

The Met have said that ASBOs have been a valuable tool in combating violence and antisocial behaviour on the part of gangs. Following the August riots, will the Government ditch their plans to weaken the ASBO regime through proposals to remove the criminal sanctions and introduce far lighter penalties for those who flout the law? Do communities not deserve to be protected by the full force of the criminal law?

I am sorry to tell the hon. Lady that I think she has completely misunderstood the situation. We are ensuring that antisocial behaviour measures are effective and will provide relief for communities. As for the need to combat gangs, we are ensuring that injunctions are available to support the police and communities and enable firm and clear action to be taken against gangs, and we will have rolled them out to all communities by the end of this year. Those are practical measures to bring relief to communities, which is what the Government are determined to do.

Can my hon. Friend reassure my constituents that the introduction of police and crime commissioners will help to ensure that the police focus on local policing priorities, such as antisocial behaviour, that matter in neighbourhoods such as those across my constituency?

With a mandate that will respond to local concerns and priorities, I have little doubt that police and crime commissioners will focus on how their local police forces address antisocial behaviour and will ensure that the necessary strategies, funding and resources are made available. Our reforms are designed precisely to ensure that local communities’ views are heard very loudly and clearly. That is at the heart of the reforms, and I am sure that police and crime commissioners will have antisocial behaviour at the top of their agendas.

The Minister is using some robust words, but he does not seem to understand the point. Antisocial behaviour orders are a preventive measure but they need the back-up of a criminal sanction to make them effective. That has worked across the country. Does he not listen to the police, who say it is an essential element in tackling antisocial behaviour?

The Association of Chief Police Officers has been clear that it supports

“a simplification of the tools and powers available to frontline practitioners, making it easier for them to do what works best.”

That is the action we are taking to help the police and communities, and to bring relief against antisocial behaviour, which, sadly, the last Government failed to do.