Call for "fundamental rethink" of Government's approach to anti-social behaviour
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has called on the Government to rethink its approach to the problem of anti-social behaviour.
Mr Herbert, who is also Shadow Minister for Police Reform, made his call ahead of the Prime Minister's visit to Brighton on Monday (22 January) to launch one of the Government's 40 ‘Respect Areas' in Brighton and Hove.
The ‘areas' are intended, through the provision of parenting classes, public meetings and other ‘intervention projects', to tackle the continuing problem of anti-social behaviour. Despite repeated initiatives, one in seven people in Sussex still perceives a high level of anti-social behaviour in their area.
The Prime Minister's visit came in the same week as Sussex Police revealed that they will face a funding shortfall of up to £9.4 million between now and 2010 and follows the Government's decision to abandon its manifesto pledge to deliver 24,000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) nationwide by March 2008.
In Sussex, where the police had been planning for 525 PCSOs by March 2008, there will now only be 354, a reduction of 171.
Sussex, which already has over 250 PCSOs - the highest number of any shire force - has led the way in the deployment of PCSOs to help tackle low level crime and anti-social behaviour.
Mr Herbert used a Parliamentary debate on Anti-Social Behaviour last Thursday (18 January) to make his call for the "fundamental rethink" of the Government's approach to anti-social behaviour, stating that its Respect Action Plan "is a plan to deal with anti-social behaviour without the police and without people being able to get hold of the police".
Mr Herbert also highlighted the failure of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) as a weapon against anti-social behaviour:
"More than half of ASBOs are breached. Of those breaches, more than a third occurred on more then five occasions. In Sussex, there are four breaches for every ASBO that has been issued".
"ASBOs are an ineffective and inappropriate instrument to deal with hardened criminal behaviour ... a minority of offenders should be dealt with in the courts and properly sentenced, so that victims can be assured that action has been taken. The Government's approach is the opposite."
Commenting, Nick Herbert said: "The Government has reneged on its promise of 171 additional Police Community Support Officers for Sussex, many of whom would have been able to provide a valuable uniformed presence in the so-called ‘Respect Area' in Brighton and Hove.
"Local people don't want gimmicks like ‘Respect Handbooks' - they want police officers on their streets to take real action against anti-social behaviour."
Notes for Editors
1. The transcript of the House of Commons debate on Thursday 18 January 2007 can be found at http://pubs1.tso.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070118/debtext/70118-0008.htm