Drug money 'should go to local communities'

Baroness Newlove, whose husband, Garry, was kicked to death by youths outside their home, today calls for drug dealers' money to be given to neighbourhoods affected by crime.

She also says more communities should be able to set their own speed limits to make it easier to crack down on "boy racers". Her plans, in a report commissioned by the Home Office, are designed to help residents "reclaim their streets". They come after ministers dropped the use of antisocial behaviour orders in favour of giving extra powers to police and encouraging residents to band together to take action against low-level crime. Lady Newlove came to prominence in 2007 when her husband was murdered after he confronted drunken youths vandalising their car in Warrington.

She was made a peer by David Cameron, who appointed her to be the Government's "champion for active safer communities", a role intended to chime with his vision of the Big Society.

Lady Newlove is championing the idea of "bling back", under which drug dealers' assets seized by police do not go into a central fund, but are channelled back into the areas where they used to operate.

Plans to overhaul drug sentences guidelines to allow lower-level offenders to avoid jail were set out by the Sentencing Council. Under the proposals, drug-runners who supply up to 50 grams of heroin or cocaine or up to 100 ecstasy tablets will face up to three and a half years' custody or a community sentence.

Communities that provide information to police which results in a conviction would receive a reward that could be used locally on crime prevention. And people who join anti-crime initiatives could receive council tax rebates, or vouchers to spend locally, in return for their work.

Under her plans, new police commissioners, the first of whom will be elected next year, would promise to spend at least 1 per cent of their budgets on local anti-crime schemes designed by residents.

Lady Newlove, who studied seven areas facing high levels of antisocial behaviour, said: "For too long now people have either not known how to get involved, have not been listened to when they have tried to speak out, or simply felt it wasn't worth it as nothing would ever change."

She said she wanted to challenge the status quo by empowering residents to fight back against low-level crime. "Everyone has a role to play," she said.

Plans to overhaul drug sentences guidelines to allow lower-level offenders to avoid jail were set out by the Sentencing Council. Under the proposals, drug-runners who supply up to 50 grams of heroin or cocaine or up to 100 ecstasy tablets will face up to three and a half years' custody or a community sentence.