Theresa May outlines plans to deal with anti-social behaviour


Sam Lister
Monday 30 January 2012 08:56

Plans to give communities tougher protection from anti-social behaviour will be piloted in the summer, the Home Secretary will say today.

Theresa May wants to put an end to the “horror stories” of victims being ignored despite making repeated complaints to the authorities about problem neighbours.

In a speech on police reform in London, Ms May will say work has begun with local authorities on the “community trigger” scheme the Government announced last year.

Under the plans action must be taken to tackle nuisance behaviour if five people in different homes across the same neighbourhood complain. Community Safety Partnerships, made up of police and councils, will be able to reject any complaints they believe are malicious.

Mrs May will say: “It's too easy to overlook the harm that persistent anti-social behaviour causes. Many police forces, councils and housing providers are working hard, but I still hear horror stories of victims reporting the same problem over and over again, and getting no response.

“These long-running problems - and the sense of helplessness that goes with them - can destroy a victim's quality of life and shatter a community's trust in the police.

“That's why we proposed a 'community trigger' as part of our reforms to anti-social behaviour laws. The trigger will give victims and communities the right to demand that agencies who had ignored a problem must take action.

“So we are now working with a number of local authorities to test the 'community trigger' on the ground, and pilots will begin by the summer.”

Shadow Home Office minister Gloria DePiero said: “This is a belated and weak announcement from the Home Secretary which shows how out of touch she is with the anti-social behaviour problems many communities face.

“After two years of doing nothing to tackle anti-social behaviour, the Home Secretary has to do better than a few pilots that won't start until the summer, and which seem to suggest that anti-social behaviour should not be taken seriously if only two or three people complain.

“Most right-minded people will also wonder why it should take five different people complaining to get a response from agencies that are there to protect the public and deal with the minority who can make life unbearable.

“Even if only one person complains, their concerns should be investigated and treated seriously.

“The Home Secretary's record on anti-social behaviour is lamentable. Her plans mean it will no longer be a criminal offence to breach an asbo (anti-social behaviour order) and she is cutting 16,000 police officers and thousands of community officers and staff, so that chief constables from Gloucester to South Yorkshire have said neighbourhood policing is being jeopardised.

“The Home Secretary has no serious plan to help cut crime or anti-social behaviour. She is only cutting police officers instead.”