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Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 545: debated on Monday 21 May 2012

11. Whether her Department has carried out an impact assessment on removing the deterrent of a criminal record in dealing with antisocial behaviour. (108037)

I thank the Minister for that interesting answer. Under Labour, antisocial behaviour was driven down and my constituents saw the real benefit. With front-line policing now being hit by Tory cuts, my constituents are facing a weakening of powers to tackle antisocial behaviour, despite the spin we heard a moment ago. In drafting the upcoming White Paper, will the Minister acknowledge that public confidence is low and a weakened rebranding of antisocial behaviour orders is the wrong priority at the wrong time?

It may not surprise the hon. Gentleman to learn that I do not share his characterisation of the antisocial behaviour measures on which we have been consulting. The criminal behaviour order would carry a tough criminal sanction for breach, and other measures, such as the crime prevention injunction, are about having speedier justice to bring relief to communities. These measures are about strengthening the response to antisocial behaviour, not weakening it. The hon. Gentleman will see that when the White Paper is published tomorrow.

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the best ways to strengthen the impact of antisocial behaviour legislation would be to extend the welcome category of offences that he and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary are considering for which the police can themselves prosecute, without having to go through all the bureaucracy of the Crown Prosecution Service?

I absolutely agree. This is about reducing bureaucracy and giving discretion to the police to be able to get on and conduct such charges. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is examining precisely that issue and the relevant offences which may apply.

Stockport Homes is very effective in dealing with antisocial behaviour by its tenants, using a number of measures made available under legislation introduced by the previous Labour Government. Does the Minister agree that civil orders and injunctions should still be available to social landlords, on application, in any future proposals?

I agree with the hon. Lady about the role social landlords can play in dealing with antisocial behaviour. Injunctions and civil orders are important tools. We are looking at how to extend them, and to make them more flexible and speedier, so as to bring relief to social tenants and others who are victims of antisocial behaviour.