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Theresa May reveals 'community trigger' to replace ASBOs and target anti-social behaviour


John Hall
Tuesday 22 May 2012 12:37 BST

A new ‘community trigger’ is to be introduced to replace the discredited ASBO scheme, and make it quicker and easier for police to investigate complaints of anti-social behaviour.

Under the new plan, which aims to stop repeat victims suffering unnoticed by giving individuals and communities the power to make police take action, forces will be required to investigate any single incident reported by at least five people, or any three complaints made by the same person.

Speaking in Manchester ,which along with Brighton and Hove and West Lindsey in Lincolnshire will be one of three pilot areas for the scheme, the Home Secretary Theresa May said the measures "will give people the confidence that when they call the police something will be done".

"I want to see the police dealing with anti-social behaviour when it happens and when people are reporting it," she added.

The Home Secretary’s reforms will replace 19 measures with six powers that target people, places and police powers.

A new Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) will be used to ban individuals from activities or places, while civil Crime Prevention Injunctions (CPI) will be introduced to give agencies immediate power to protect victims and communities by stopping bad behaviour before it escalates.

Simpler powers to close premises that are deemed a magnet for trouble, and tougher action over nightmare neighbours, with faster eviction processes for those who refuse to change their ways, will also be introduced.

The move follows high-profile cases such as that of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick, 18, in 2007 following 10 years of sustained abuse.

The lower standard of proof for civil orders such as the CPI means they can be put in place in days or even hours, rather than months and years.

Reacting to the new community triggers, Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: "The Government's new measures are a weaker rebrand, making it harder for the police, councils and housing associations to take tough enforcement action when people's lives are made a misery by anti-social bullies or nuisance neighbours.

"It should not take three separate complaints, or five different households complaining before getting a response.

She went on: "Breaching anti-social behaviour orders will no longer be a criminal offence.

"And housing associations have warned that rebranding injunctions will make it harder to deal with neighbours from hell because it rips up years of case law and experience.

"Ministers' grand promises on anti-social behaviour are no use if they are taking away the police to do the job and cutting back the effective powers they need."

However, Sussex Police Chief Inspector Bruce Mathews, head of the Safe in the City Delivery Unit in Brighton and Hove - one of the three pilot areas, said: "The early benefits of this work are starting to have an impact already.

"For example, agencies across the city are using a vulnerability assessment for victims and witnesses of anti-social behaviour and hate incidents.

"This identifies the levels of harm, risk and vulnerability of the person and enables agencies to better respond to their circumstances and needs."

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