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BALANCE ENFORCEMENT WITH PREVENTION - ORGANISATIONS IN ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR FRONTLINE TELL MPs

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In a joint statement published today, a dozen leading national organisations ...
In a joint statement published today, a dozen leading national organisations

have called on MPs to ensure that enforcement measures proposed in the

anti-social behaviour bill must be balanced with the need to prevent and

change such behaviour.

National organisations working across the range of areas affected by the

bill - including those working with young people, older people, on crime

prevention, the environment, housing and homelessness and local government -

have set out their views in the statement which has been sent to MPs for the

second reading of the billin the commons today.

Chair of the Local Government Association's community safety panel,

Richard Leese said: 'We need sustainable solutions to tackle anti-social

behaviour. However, although penalties and sanctions have their role, they

will not bring about respect for property, the streets and public spaces in

our society.

'To be effective the bill must focus on prevention and working with local

communities to tackle the social conditions that give rise to anti-social

behaviour.'

Notes

1. The anti-social behaviour bill has its second reading in the House of

Commons today. The bill sets out wide-ranging proposals

covering premises where drugs are used, housing and anti-social behaviour,

parental responsibilities, dispersal of groups, sanctions, firearms and the

environment (noise, graffiti and litter).

2. The joint statement follows

Balancing prevention and rehabilitation with enforcement

Joint statement on tackling anti-social behaviour

In its recent white paper and the subsequent bill, published on 27 March,

the government set out its approach to tackling anti social behaviour. The

bill and white paper both include proposals covering a number of interlinked

themes including premises where drugs are used, housing and anti-social

behaviour, parental responsibilities, dis persal of groups, sanctions,

firearms and the environment - covering noise, graffiti, and litter.

The Local Government Association, in partnership with the above-mentioned

organisations, has drawn up the following statement in response to the

government's proposals.

Respect

We agree with and support the government's objective of a society in which

people respect each others' property, respect the streets and public spaces

we share and respect neighbours' rights to live free from harassment and

distress. (This objective is set out in the Foreword to the Anti-social

Behaviour White paper and also in 'Sustainable Communities: Building for the

future' - known as the Communities Plan - published on 5 February).

Local prevention

However both the white paper and in particular the bill, still place an

undue emphasis on enforcement. Whilst enforcement measures have a role to

play they make little, if any, contribution towards tackling the root causes

of anti-social behaviour - more emphasis needs to be given to prevention and

developing effective interventions that work with people to resolve their

problems. The government needs to give more emphasis to prevention and to

working with local communities to tackle the social conditions that give

rise to much anti-social behaviour - for example by building local youth

services which can play a part in enabling young people to lead fulfilling

and responsible lives. We are ready to work together with government to

identify and promote sustainable solutions that can have a real impact in

local communities.

Negative perceptions

Indeed there is a real danger that some of the proposals may simply

reinforce negative perceptions of people who live in social housing and of

young people as trouble-makers, jeopardise their future life chances and

lead to further alienation.

Implementation issues

Some of the proposals in the bill also appear difficult to i mplement and

require more thought - for example: dispersal orders may only have the

effect of moving the problem to other areas; fixed penalty notices arising

in the context of truancy could undermine home/school relationships;

additional financial pressures resulting from extending fixed penalty

notices to 16 and 17 year olds may have an adverse impact on family

relationships.

Withholding housing benefit payments

We are particularly concerned at the proposal (in the white paper) to

withhold housing benefit payments to anti-social tenants. This idea appears

both inequitable - there is no equivalent penalty for those not in receipt

of benefit - and fraught with practical difficulties.

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