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Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 709: debated on Monday 28 February 2022

The beating crime plan lays out the Government’s commitment to working with local agencies to drive down antisocial behaviour. We ensured that local agencies have flexible tools and powers to tackle it through the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and in the levelling up White Paper we announced that the safer streets fund will be expanded to include the prevention of ASB as one of its primary aims.

There has been a spate of antisocial behaviour and a rise in burglary in Thornbury and, particularly, Alveston over the past few weeks. Avon and Somerset police has provided strong support and recruited 670 new officers in the last year and a half alone, which is very welcome, but what steps can my hon. Friend take to make sure these new officers do not just concentrate their activity in the core city areas but support rural south Gloucestershire, too? Will she meet me to discuss what more we can do to keep communities such as Thornbury and Alveston safe?

I completely sympathise with my hon. Friend’s constituents, who are suffering from antisocial behaviour and burglaries. I welcome his acknowledgement that the Government have ensured that Gloucestershire has additional police officers. Those officers are deployed by the chief constable and the locally elected police and crime commissioner, so it is absolutely down to them. I am sure that my hon. Friend will be advocating most vociferously to ensure that they are targeting those additional officers where they are needed.

Despite the best efforts of our fantastic police officers, the careless use of unlicensed off-road motorcycles is a huge aspect of antisocial behaviour in Redcar and Cleveland. The use of these bikes, largely by teenagers and young adults, has resulted in significant damage to private property and to the living environment for local people. Sadly, it often also includes the transportation of illegal drugs. Will the Minister commit to visiting Redcar and Cleveland with me to see the extent of the problem, speak with some of the people affected and help us devise a plan to tackle this criminality?

I would be delighted to visit my hon. Friend’s constituency—perhaps I can visit the Gloucestershire constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Thornbury and Yate (Luke Hall) on my way there. My hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Jacob Young) is absolutely right to highlight the detrimental impacts of this type of behaviour. Of course, our legislation gives those responsible the ability to deal with antisocial incidents. I understand that he faces a particular issue in Eston hills, so perhaps he can take me there and we will see what we can do together.

Is the Minister aware that some kinds of antisocial behaviour sometimes become violent and that some of the young people swept into that have autism backgrounds? Is she concerned that under joint enterprise it is now believed that many young people are in prison who should not be there? Is she worried about joint enterprise and is she making any investigation to do something about it?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. On the broader issue of those suffering from autism, we absolutely are aware that a number of factors contribute to young people sadly being caught up in crime, either as perpetrators or as victims. We are working widely across government with our colleagues in the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care, and I point specifically to the excellent work we are doing in the violence reduction units up and down the country and through the youth endowment fund, which targets and specifically funds projects to help young people avoid a life of crime. I would be happy to talk to him in more detail about the specific issue he raises with me.

What assessment has the Minister made of the link between youth antisocial behaviour and a lack of youth-focused community spaces and initiatives? What discussions have taken place across Government about ensuring that communities have the resources to support young people before antisocial behaviour occurs or escalates?

The hon. Lady will be aware that the issue of youth violence is a key priority for the crime and justice taskforce, led by the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister. My colleagues in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have recently allocated £540 million to additional youth services up and down the country, which is a fantastic initiative to enable young people to be engaged in productive activities so that they are not tempted by a life of criminality.

I am very happy that Ipswich is getting £25 million through a town deal, but when I talk to town centre businesses and my constituents I find that many of them are very concerned about crime and antisocial behaviour. It is actually putting some people off going into the town, and in Dial Lane a number of businesses have had their windows smashed. Does my hon. Friend agree that as we support our town centres in coming out of the pandemic it is crucial that we tackle antisocial behaviour, and that one way in which we can do that in Ipswich would be by looking at the police funding formula for Suffolk, which I have banged on about quite a lot, to make sure that we get a fair deal and a bigger police presence in the town centre, so that businesses and my constituents feel 110% secure to spend money in the town centre?

I am pleased to say that because of my hon. Friend’s ardent campaigning there are more police officers in his area. I wish to highlight for him the safer streets fund, which is exactly the kind of initiative that we are putting into town centres to tackle these issues, through things such as better street lighting, CCTV and additional security for residents. The latest round of our safer streets fund is focused on targeting violence against women and girls. That will specifically look at patrols, safer streets and training and the night-time economy.