Johnson warns authorities over yobs

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Police and councils will be set tough new targets on dealing with anti-social behaviour, Home Secretary Alan Johnson will announce today.

Mr Johnson will launch a major drive to improve how the authorities deal with yobbish behaviour in the wake of the Fiona Pilkington inquest.

Victim Support services will be extended to all victims of anti-social behaviour who give evidence against their attackers in magistrates courts, he will say.

The Home Office will pledge to spend £2.8 million over two years on a network of 87 victims and witness champions.

Mr Johnson will write to chief constables and council leaders insisting he expects them to use all the powers available to them - including anti-social behaviour orders, dispersal orders and premises closure orders.

Local authorities, social housing landlords and every police force in England and Wales will be set minimum standards on dealing with the problem.

By March next year the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to which they belong will be expected to reduce year on year perceptions of anti-social behaviour, record and respond to every reported problem and tell victims about what is being done.

New research will measure the extent to which breaches of Asbos - a criminal offence - are leading to prosecution, amid concerns of uneven performance across the country.

Mr Johnson said on Sunday: "We're not looking to introduce new legislation. We're looking at making the existing measures work better."

Since 1997, the Government has passed a wide array of anti-social behaviour laws, but the focus shifted away from the problem when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.

However at last month's Labour conference Mr Brown pledged to tackle the problem amid public outcry over the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca.

Two councils and the police were criticised for not responding to the 38-year-old's plea for help against a group of teenage yobs before she killed herself and her daughter by setting fire to their car.

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