COUNCILS TO SET EXAMPLE IN ENSURING RESPECT IN COMMUNITIES
Forty local authorities have been named as Respect Areas by the Home Office which said they had earned the right to be exemplars of the Respect programme through their track records in dealing with anti-social behaviour. They will get further backing from the Department for Education and Skills, which is putting 6 million pounds into the areas for parenting classes. The authorities have been praised by council leaders but they also warned that money alone would not lead to the changes in culture needed to challenge poor behaviour.
Government statistics published alongside the creation of the respect Areas also showed a significant increase in the powers that councils and the police are using to clamp down on anti-social behaviour. There has been a 90 per cent increase in acceptable behaviour contracts with over 18,000 being used over the last three years. Over the same period, 4,000 parenting contracts have been used, representing an increase of almost 250 per cent. Also published at the same time was a new Respect Handbook, reinforcing the warning that there are no excuses for local services not to take action.
The Local Government Association praised the achievements of the 40 councils and said their efforts would help to change the way people treated each other and improve levels of respect in communities. But Hazel Harding, who chairs the Association’s Safer Communities board, said, “Money on its own won’t deliver the cultural change needed to challenge disrespectful and anti-social behaviour. Strong local leadership, commitment and accountability to residents are a key part of building a respectful society.”
The authorities chosen as Respect Areas have all signed up to Family Intervention Projects to tackle problem neighbours; more classes for parents struggling with troublesome children; sessions at which representatives of the council, the police and other bodies will meet local people; using the Respect Housing Standard and continuing their actions against anti-social behaviour by using the full range of tools and powers available to them.