COMMONS

Committee calls for national standard for action on anti-social behaviour

15 February 2013

The Home Affairs Committee publishes its Report on the draft Anti-social Behaviour Bill on Friday 15 February (Twelfth Report, Session 2012-13, HC 836).

The Committee finds that:

  • The rationalisation of the number of anti-social behaviour (ASB) powers is welcome;
  • Key elements necessary to tackle ASB are missing: good inter-agency working, intelligent information sharing and a network of services;
  • The move away from automatic criminalisation for breach of an Injunction is positive, but the powers are far too wide: to prohibit or demand almost any kind of action in response to almost any kind of behaviour;
  • The “Community Remedy” must not “become the modern pillory or stocks”: officers must have the discretion to choose alternative disposals;
  • The “Community Trigger” will not be effective against persistent ASB unless there is a national limit on the number of complaints that can be made before action is taken. There must be a guaranteed response to ASB and it must not depend on where you live.

The Committee calls on Government to:

  • Strengthen the Community Trigger so that authorities that do not deal with ASB are identified and held to account and decisive action is taken to deal with the problem;
  • Set up a new National Anti-social Behaviour Forum—headed by a chief constable, a housing association chief executive, and a local council leader, for a term of two years—to identify “what works” in ASB reduction;
  • End the arms race against Anti-social Behaviour by setting reasonable limits on the behaviour covered by the new powers.

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP said:

"The terrible cases of Fiona Pilkington in Leicestershire and Dr Suzanne Dow in Broxtowe were a wake-up call for authorities across the country: anti-social behaviour is not something trivial that can be ignored—it can crush lives and breed criminality in our communities.

"The Community Trigger is meant to be the last line of defence to protect the public from anti-social behaviour. No one should have to complain more than 5 times before they see action.

"The Home Affairs Select Committee welcomes the work the Government is doing to speed up action on ASB, but we need a powerful trigger in place to make a decisive change where persistent and harmful behaviour puts lives at risk."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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