Councils, police and other local agencies will be forced to support victims of persistent anti-social behaviour (ASB) as part of plans to give them better tools and powers outlined by Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire. The announcement follows a review that found there are too many tools for practitioners to tackle ASB some of which are too bureaucratic, too costly and do not address underlying problems. At the same time, the growing numbers of people who ignore their penalties suggest a persistent minority are still not being deterred from committing ASB.
A public consultation launched by the Home Office proposes a number of new measures to better protect communities from the serious harm caused by criminal and antisocial behaviour.
- community triggers where local agencies will be compelled to take action if several people in the same neighbourhood have complained and no action had been taken; or the behaviour in question has been reported to the authorities by an individual three times, and no action had been taken
- criminal behaviour orders — issued by the courts after conviction, the order would ban an individual from certain activities or places and require them to address their behaviour for example attending drug treatment programmes. A breach would see an individual face a maximum five year prison term
- crime prevention injunctions - designed to nip bad behaviour in the bud before it escalates. The injunction would carry a civil burden of proof, making it quicker and easier to obtain than previous tools. For adults, breach of the injunction could see you imprisoned or fined. For under-18s a breach could be dealt with through curfews, supervision or detention
- community protection orders - comprising one order for local authorities to stop persistent environmental ASB like graffiti, neighbour noise or dog fouling; and another for police and local authorities to deal with more serious disorder and criminality in a specific place such as closing a property used for drug dealing
- police 'direction' powers — a power to direct any individual causing or likely to cause crime or disorder away from a particular place and to confiscate related items
Subject to consultation the new tools will replace 18 of the formal powers currently available. They will be more flexible, quicker to obtain and less bureaucratic for police, courts and other local agencies, making it easier to deal with persistent offenders.
Commenting, James Brokenshire said:
"For too long anti-social behaviour has wreaked havoc in our communities and ruined decent people's lives. It's time for a new approach that better supports victims and makes it easier for the authorities to take fast, effective action. This consultation sets out a how we propose to tackle this stubborn problem, ensuring the most vulnerable in our communities are protected from the cowards and bullies who carry on in such an offensive manner. It is important there is no let-up — local areas must continue to use the most appropriate powers available to them."