New antisocial measures won't work, says Government's Victims' Commissioner

Police should intervene earlier when vulnerable people are harassed, warns Baroness Newlove

The woman appointed by David Cameron to represent victims of crime, whose husband was killed by a gang of youths, has criticised two key aspects of the Government's new antisocial behaviour reforms.

Helen Newlove, the Government's Victims' Commissioner, expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the new "community trigger", which obliges police and councils to intervene – but only after receiving three complaints.

Baroness Newlove, who has campaigned on antisocial behaviour since her husband Garry was murdered in 2007, also voiced concerns about police being able to issue Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (Ipnas). These are replacing, in part, antisocial behaviour orders, or Asbos, and are designed to tackle low-level offending.

They can be used against anyone who is causing annoyance rather than committing a crime, which carries a lower burden of proof. Lady Newlove, submitting evidence to MPs scrutinising the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, warned that Ipnas could "add to the workload of frontline officers because of their lack of knowledge of civil law". This would make them reluctant to use the injunctions, she said.

When the law has been broken, police will be able to issue Criminal Behaviour Orders, which Lady Newlove said she supports.

The "community trigger" was proposed by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, last year. It was prompted by the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her 18-year-old disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick in 2007 after years of harassment by youths in Barwell, Leicestershire. The family's repeated appeals to the authorities for help were ignored.

The scheme has been piloted in several areas but used just 13 times despite 44,011 reports of bad behaviour, suggesting that the "three strikes" measure is ineffective.

Critics say three is too high a figure because victims of antisocial behaviour often do not report an incident on the first occasion, thinking it will be a one-off. The scheme also does nothing to take the vulnerability of the victim into account.

In her written evidence to MPs, Lady Newlove said that while she supported giving powers to residents to force the police and authorities to act on antisocial behaviour, the idea of a minimum of three complaints was "potentially problematic because it implies that a certain number of incidents are acceptable before any action needs to be taken by the authorities". She added: "For this reason the term 'community trigger' should be avoided. Alternatives might include 'community review' or 'community alert'."

Mr Cameron gave Lady Newlove her peerage shortly before entering Downing Street in May 2010, a move which helped give credibility to the incoming coalition government on law and order. She was appointed as the Government's Champion for Active, Safer Communities in 2010.

Gloria De Piero, Labour's home affairs spokeswoman, said: "It is not good enough for the Government to say action on antisocial behaviour must only be taken if someone calls three times. It is highly unlikely that the first time a victim calls it will be the first time they have experienced the harassment.

"We will be calling on the Government to take into account the vulnerability of the victim to ensure there is meaningful action."

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Anti-social behaviour is unacceptable and a duty already exists on local agencies to deal with every report of ASB.

“The Community Trigger is intended to be a safety net for the public if police and local authorities fail to act and will ensure that no-one has to suffer persistent, targeted ASB over a prolonged period of time. It is one of a range of new measures which will make it easier and quicker for agencies to protect victims and communities from the blight of anti-social behaviour.

“We want the police to be able to use their new powers effectively, so learning how to use them properly will become part of their regular training.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own