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Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 566: debated on Monday 15 July 2013

The Government are introducing new powers to tackle antisocial behaviour that will be more flexible, quicker to deploy and more effective at protecting the public. The measures include sanctions to prevent antisocial behaviour, as well as positive requirements to address its underlying causes.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer, but is it not the case that while breaching an ASBO results in a criminal record, breaching the new injunction that the Minister is bringing in will not? Is that not a signal that the Government are not serious about tackling antisocial behaviour?

No, I do not agree. I agree with the Labour Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), who said:

“I very much welcome the Government’s decision to overhaul the statutory framework for tackling anti-social behaviour.”

While I am at it, I also agree with the chief constable of Thames Valley police who said:

“The fact is, the experience has been that the ASBOs have been quite bureaucratic, in terms of securing them, and maybe not as effective at tackling the problem as we hoped.”

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that of all ASBOs issued up to the end of 2011, 57% were breached at least once and 42% were breached more than once. What steps will my hon. Friend take to reform antisocial behaviour laws to better clamp down on offenders?

My hon. Friend is right to draw the attention of the House to the serious failings of the ASBO system. As I said in my initial answer, the replacement measures will be more streamlined, efficient and effective, and will reduce antisocial behaviour across the country.

Can the Minister tell the House how placing 12 conditions on the use of CCTV cameras by the police and local authorities will help to fight antisocial behaviour? Why are the Government tilting the balance in favour of the criminal and away from victims of crime and antisocial behaviour?

Britain deploys CCTV far more widely than most comparable countries around the world. I do not think anybody looking at us dispassionately would take the view that we are under-monitored by surveillance cameras. At the same time, and as the Home Secretary said, on her watch—on this Government’s watch—we have seen crime fall to its lowest level since the independent survey began more than 30 years ago. That is a record we should all be pleased with.

Does the Minister recognise the role that local skate parks can play in giving youngsters something to do, and in combating antisocial behaviour? Will he congratulate all those involved in refurbishing the Ise Lodge skate park in Kettering, a much-used local facility?

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the people who have refurbished the skate park in Kettering. He makes an important wider point, which is that the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill puts tough sanctions in place to deal with antisocial behaviour. At the same time, the measures learn from the best experiences of restorative justice and try to correct some of the underlying causes that lead to antisocial behaviour in the first place. We believe that that is an effective combination for dealing with this problem.

The families of those who have lost loved ones through dog attacks, chief police officers, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Battersea Dogs Home and hon. Members from both sides of the House support the introduction of dog control notices. Tomorrow, Labour Members on the Committee considering the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill will call for their introduction. Will the Government back us?

As we have explained—for the benefit of those who do not serve on the Committee and have not heard this argument at length—the provisions in the Bill already deal with exactly the type of problems that the hon. Lady and others envisage would be dealt with by dog control notices. An important change is being made with regard to dogs, which is that owners will now be responsible for the behaviour of their dogs in the private realm, as well as the public. That will, I hope, address serious cases—some of which have resulted in people’s deaths—in a way that I know will be welcomed across the country.