Councils, police and other local agencies will be forced to support victims of persistent antisocial behaviour as part of plans to give them better tools and powers outlined by Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire today.
This follows a review that found there are too many tools for practitioners to tackle ASB some of which are too bureaucratic, too costly and do not address underlying problems. At the same time, the growing number of people who ignore their penalties suggests a persistent minority are still not being deterred from committing ASB.
A public consultation, launched today, proposes a number of new measures to better protect communities from the serious harm caused by criminal and antisocial behaviour.
- Community Triggers - where local agencies will be compelled to take action if several people in the same neighbourhood have complained and no action had been taken; or the behaviour in question has been reported to the authorities by an individual three times, and no action had been taken;
- Criminal Behaviour Orders – issued by the courts after conviction, the order would ban an individual from certain activities or places and require them to address their behaviour, for example attending drug treatment programmes. A breach would see an individual face a maximum five year prison term;
- Crime Prevention Injunctions - designed to nip bad behaviour in the bud before it escalates. The injunction would carry a civil burden of proof, making it quicker and easier to obtain than previous tools. For adults, breach of the injunction could see you imprisoned or fined. For under-18s a breach could be dealt with through curfews, supervision or detention.
- Community Protection Orders - comprising one order for local authorities to stop persistent environmental ASB like graffiti, neighbour noise or dog fouling; and another for police and local authorities to deal with more serious disorder and criminality in a specific place such as closing a property used for drug dealing; and
- Police 'Direction' powers – a power to direct any individual causing or likely to cause crime or disorder away from a particular place and to confiscate related items.
Subject to consultation the new tools will replace 18 of the formal powers currently available. They will be more flexible, quicker to obtain and less bureaucratic for police, courts and other local agencies, making it easier to deal with persistent offenders.
James Brokenshire said:
"For too long antisocial behaviour has wreaked havoc in our communities and ruined decent people's lives.
"It is time for a new approach that better supports victims and makes it easier for the authorities to take fast, effective action.
"This consultation sets out a how we propose to tackle this stubborn problem, ensuring the most vulnerable in our communities are protected from the cowards and bullies who carry on in such an offensive manner.
"It is important there is no let-up – local areas must continue to use the most appropriate powers available to them."
Louise Casey, Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses, said:
"In my role as Victims' Commissioner I have seen first hand the powerlessness and despair that victims often feel when they are targeted again and again by anti-social and criminal behaviour. So I am heartened by the announcement of the new proposals today that put tough enforcement action against perpetrators at the centre.
"I am pleased that the message being sent out from government today is that there is no excuse for police and councils to stand by and allow their communities to suffer from lawless, mindless thuggery that makes people's lives unbearable."
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The consultation document can be found at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/asb-consultation
2. Reform of the ASB tools and powers is one part of a new approach to ASB that also includes:
- Street level crime and local policing information that allows the public to see what crimes are being committed in their neighbourhood;
- Trials in eight police force areas setting out a new approach for handling complaints of ASB. It includes a new system of logging complaints and improving the use of IT to share information that will help to quickly identify and protect vulnerable victims;
- Plans, announced by the Housing Minister earlier this year to speed up the process for social landlords to evict tenants who commit persistent ASB; and
- The work of Baroness Newlove, the Government's Champion for Active Safer Communities to look at how government and local agencies can empower communities and drive up local activism.
3. The Community Trigger will mean the local authorities in question would have a duty to inform the complainants within 14 days of what they planned to do. Police and Crime Commissioner (PCCs to be introduced in 2012) would then be able to 'call in' the authority for an explanation if they felt the response was inadequate.
4. For further details on the government's call handling trials please go to:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/news/asb-victims
5. For further details on proposals for evicting tenants who commit ASB please go to:http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/1814083
6. For further details on the 2009 ASBO statistics please go to:http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs11/asbo2009snr.pdf
7. For further details on street level crime and local policing information please go to:www.police.uk
8. For further information on Baroness Newlove and her work as Champion for Active Safer Communities please go to: http://www.helennewlove.co.uk/
9. For further details on PCCs please go to:http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/parliamentary-business/written-ministerial-statement/policing-21st-response-wms/
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