Headlines: June 25th, 2003

Local authorities and the police are being urged to make greater use of the powers they have to tackle anti-social behaviour. The call came from the Home Secretary, David Blunkett who also launched a new awards scheme to recognise people taking action to reduce the problems in their communities.Mr. Blunkett was speaking before the third reading of the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill, which includes new powers that the government believes will make a difference to communities blighted by noisy neighbours, vandals and thugs. He said people expected to live free from fear and it was right that they looked to local agencies to do all they could to protect them.

“Local authorities and the police need to use the powers they have to make sure areas bedeviled by anti-social behaviour are returned to the decent law abiding majority,” he said. He promised that the government would play its part and said the new Bill incorporated a series of measures that local agencies had asked for including powers to close down crack houses, widening of the use of Fixed Penalty Notices to tackle noise nuisance, truancy and graffiti and to restrict the use of air weapons.

Mr. Blunkett also launched the Taking a Stand awards which will recognise those who have made a difference in tackling anti-social behaviour in their communities. Anti-social behaviour, he said, could not be tackled by one government department or one agency alone. Everyone had a role to play and that meant people must be prepared to stand up to the yobs and report crimes to police. Parents also had to teach their children right from wrong.

The awards have been developed by the Home Office in partnership with the Co-op Group, the National Neighbourhood Watch Association and Crime Concern. The scheme will be targeted at individuals and local groups who have taken action against anti- social behaviour. Up to 30 awards of a thousand pounds each will be made across England and Wales, with a prize of five thousand pounds for the overall winner. The money should be spent on supporting the schemes to further tackle anti-social behaviour. The awards will be given in November.