Headlines: August 24th, 2007

Local authorities and the police are being urged to make greater use of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts as a way of nipping anti-social behaviour in the bud. The Home Office says the effective use of the contracts has brought respite to thousands of communities in England and Wales. The call for more use of them came as the Government published guidance for those engaged in the fight against anti-social behaviour.The guidance has been drawn up with help from a number of agencies, including the police and councils. It offers examples of best practice and reflects how Acceptable Behaviour Contracts are being used as part of the toolkit for dealing with anti-social behaviour. The Home Office says 25,000 contracts are in place and the effects are being shown in the 94 per cent of areas where there has been a fall in anti-social behaviour.

The contract is a written, voluntary agreement between a person and the police and local services. It includes an acknowledgement by the individual that their behaviour is having a negative impact on the community and an agreement to stop that behaviour. It can also include the individual agreeing to complete positive actions.

Mike Goodwin, Assistant Chief Constable of Leicestershire Constabulary and the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on Anti-Social Behaviour said that in many cases where the contracts have been issued, offending stops without recourse to legal remedies. “Where the terms of the ABC are not followed then this provides good evidence for firm follow up intervention whether by applying for an ASBO or using criminal law where appropriate,” he added.

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, said she was publishing the new guidance because she wanted the available support and tools to be used effectively and everywhere. “Twenty five thousand individuals have now faced up to the effect of their behaviour and agreed to change their ways. This is why recent figures showed that in more than 9 out of 10 local areas, local people had reported falls in anti-social behaviour,” she said.