Headlines: October 15th, 2003

Home Secretary David Blunkett has launched a campaign to encourage police, local councils and other public bodies to give a high priority to tackling anti-social behaviour which ranges from intimidating and thuggish behaviour to environmental crime such as abandoned cars and graffiti. Richard Grant, chair of the Local Government Association’s community safety panel, while welcoming the campaign believes that enforcement is not on its own a lasting solution to the menace of anti-social behaviour. He said there must be sustainable, long-term solutions to stop the problems arising in the first place. He added: “There are no quick fixes. Tough action against perpetrators may make good short term headlines, but unless that is accompanied with long-term action, the victims will be the long-term losers.The LGA is concerned that Central government ensures that councils are free to form local partnerships to enable local action against anti-social behaviour to suit local circumstances. Because what is right for one area, might not be right for another. It believes that there is also room for more joined up thinking across government and the Anti Social Behaviour Unit in the Home Office could fulfill a useful role in ensuring Whitehall departments have a consistent approach.

The measures which make up the anti social behaviour campaign include: priority areas to target action, a team of specialist prosecutors, a new phoneline and website to help local agencies and practitioners deal effectively with anti-social behaviour. In 2004 there will be a nationwide training programme to brief the police, housing officers, environmental health officers and other key people on what powers they have and how they can best use them. There will also be new sentencing guidelines for magistrates to ensure consistent punishments across the country.