Official 'who enjoys getting hammered' to tackle drinkers

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Indy Politics

Louise Casey, the anti-social behaviour tsar, has been put in charge of the Respect task force, which will be responsible for cracking down on binge drinking and encouraging "good manners."

Earlier this year, Ms Casey faced criticism after telling a private dinner for police chiefs, Home Office officials and criminal justice specialists : "I suppose you can't binge drink anymore because lots of people have said you can't do it. I don't know who bloody made that up, it's nonsense."

Ms Casey was forced to apologise after she was captured on tape saying ministers might perform better if they "turn up in the morning pissed".

She also said: "Doing things sober is no way to get things done."

A Home Office spokesman said Ms Casey's new unit, which will have about 30 staff, would also try to encourage respect for teachers, nurses and the police. The Home Secretary has welcomed her appointment - but it will raise eyebrows in Whitehall.

The senior civil servant will answer to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Charles Clarke in her enhanced role.

Mr Clarke welcomed the appointment and said: "From bad behaviour in schools and poor parenting to binge drinking and noisy neighbours, disrespect for others can take many forms. It is absolutely crucial therefore that the task force is joined-up across Government, bringing together officials from all relevant departments."

Yesterday, in his first speech since returning from his summer holiday in the Caribbean, Tony Blair signalled that new powers - including the extension of parenting orders - would be used to take pre-emptive action to prevent crime.

In a change of direction, Mr Blair said the authorities would have new rights to get involved before young people had committed a criminal offence.

"New powers will apply to children at a much earlier stage," he said. "Not just when they have committed a criminal offence or been excluded, as is currently the case, but if they are about to get involved in anti-social behaviour. This is about prevention, not just punishment."

Mr Blair stressed his determination to bring respect back to Britain's streets and announced a "major extension" of parenting contracts and orders, which would define parents rights and responsibilities: "Bad parenting is not simply a private matter which is nothing to do with the rest of us."

The parenting orders would force mothers and fathers to accept support and advice about imposing discipline and rules.

The orders will be imposed by the courts and could address many issues such as failure to attend school meetings.