Attack on crime at heart of speech

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Indy Politics

Tackling crime and fighting the rise of yob culture was placed at the heart of the Queen's Speech outlining the new legislative programme today.

Tackling crime and fighting the rise of yob culture was placed at the heart of the Queen's Speech outlining the new legislative programme today.

A raft of new measures are set to be introduced to combat aspects of crime, from vehicle theft to money laundering and disorderly conduct.

The targeting of the so-called yob culture - blamed in the past week for the death of schoolboy Damilola Taylor in south-east London - with the extension of curfews for young people, was widely trailed.

The Criminal Justice and Police Bill will include extra measures to allow police to close immediately licensed premises where there is disorder, and issue fixed penalty measures for a range of offences.

Police will also be given powers of immediate arrest over kerb crawlers and hit and run drivers.

The new measures to be given to police were welcomed by senior officers today, but they warned that any new legislation could only be successfully enforced with adequate resources.

Peter Gammon, president of the Police Superintendent's Association said he was delighted that crime was at the forefront of the speech.

"I think that yob culture is endemic and we need strong measures and mechanisms to deal with it. We have to improve the quality of life for people, remove the fear of crime.

"Part of this is brought about by yobbish behaviour and minor crime but we need to use these measures to rebuild the fabric of our community."

Mr Gammon warned that extra resources needed to be made available before the measures could be introduced.

The Police Federation said it was encouraged by that tackling crime was at the heart of the Speech but dismissed it as a "pre-election attempt" to allay fears about the state of law and order.

Chairman Fred Broughton said: "We are saddened by the state of policing today."

The Association of Chief Police Officers was also sceptical of the practical implementation of some of the measures.

A spokesman said: "We need to make sure that when the Bills come forward they are workable. I refer in particular to the practicality of curfews."

The new legislation on curfews will raise the maximum age for those on whom dusk to dawn curfews can be imposed from 10 to 16.

They are in addition to the powers to impose a curfew on those youngsters found guilty of a known crime, and will be used to target "trouble-spots" where children gather. Designated streets and estates can be chosen by police and local authorities.

Home Secretary Jack Straw expected outcry over the curfew extension and its announcement has already won criticism, with some warning the geographic premise of the new powers will be "extremely discriminatory".

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers said the new legislation was purely reactive, and failed to tackle the causes of the so-called yob culture.

He said: "These are reactive measures that don't deal with the causes of criminal activity.

"The problems will only be transferred somewhere else under these measures. The curb on noisy pubs will just mean the trouble-makers move on to somewhere else; the curfew on street activity will just move people on to other streets which are less heavily policed.

"The child curfews are flawed in principle. They target geographic areas rather than problem individuals and risk being discriminatory.

"They could end up alienating all youngsters against the police."

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