Headlines: June 27th, 2006

The latest move in the Government’s ‘Respect Agenda’ to tackle anti-social behaviour is the creation of trouble shooting squad to tackle incidents of persistent anti-social behaviour. The squad of ten members is made up from experienced frontline staff from the police and local authorities who all have a successful track record of tackling anti-social behaviour.The squad has been created ostensibly to support the police and local authorities who ask for extra support. Some, however, view it as a spur to action where severe cases are going unchecked. This view is supported by the ‘call in’ arrangements which allow not only local councils, crime and disorder reduction partnerships and police chiefs to trigger action, but also councillors and MPs. Further support for the view that the initiative is more a lever than a delivery vehicle comes from provision for the squad to make their assessment available to the public, so reinforcing residents’ power to demand action. The squad can also intervene where evidence demonstrates insufficient action has been taken by agencies.

The Respect Action Plan, published in January 2006, set out a comprehensive programme to promote positive behaviour and bear down uncompromisingly on anti-social behaviour, tackle its causes, and strengthen local accountability of public services. Programmes are targeted in the most deprived areas to make sure that help goes where anti-social behaviour and lack of respect are experienced most. Those working in the field of anti-social behaviour already have access to a dedicated action phone line, Action days and Academy events, which offer training and advice on powers and effective approaches to tackling the problem.