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HOME OFFICE HONOURS LOCAL HEROES

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The bravery of local people who have stood up to thugs, vandals and noisy ...
The bravery of local people who have stood up to thugs, vandals and noisy

neighbours in their communities was honoured today by the Home Office at a

ceremony in the house of commons.

The Taking A Stand awards recognise the commitment, dedication and courage

of local people who have taken a personal stand against the anti-social

behaviour blighting their community.

Home Office minister Hazel Blears, presenting 32 individuals and groups from

across the country with their awards, said:

'The anti-social behaviour of a minority can destroy a

community and make decent, law abiding people live in fear. Left unchecked,

this can start a downward spiral which leads to a lack of community pride

and fuels the fear of crime. It is absolutely vital we take a stand against

anti-social behaviour.

'Doing so takes dedication, courage and hard work -

qualities all of the winners have in abundance. The transformations achieved

in the winners' communities are remarkable.

'The winners' work included graffiti clean ups, removal of

abandoned cars, punishing local thugs, providing diversionary activities to

prevent young people falling into a life of crime and restoring

neighbourhood spirit. Each winner is a testament to selfless action for the

benefit of all.

'The government is committed to helping communities fight

anti-social behaviour. The new Anti-Social Behaviour Act gives communities,

and the local agencies that serve them, new powers to combat this blight. I

urge local residents to make sure public services use these for the benefit

of everyone. By working together we can tackle the blight of anti-social

behaviour.'

The awards, part of the government's Together campaign to tackle anti-social

behaviour, were developed with Crime Concern, the National Neighbourhood

Watch Association and the Co-op.

Roger Howard, chief executive of Crime Concern, said:

'Crime Concern is pleased to be involved i n the first year

of the anti-social behaviour Taking A Stand awards.

'What these awards demonstrate is that any successful effort

to reduce ASB has to be based on equal measures of prevention with

appropriate enforcement when necessary.

'The best winners show either the commitment of a local

community or the influence of a leading individual.'

John Howell, director general of National Neighbourhood Watch Association,

said:

'As one of the judges, I have seen at firsthand the

inspiring work undertaken by all of those selected as regional winners to

help build safer communities.

'It was a difficult task to select one winner and I applaud

the work of all the community safety groups across the UK.'

Martin Beaumont, chief executive of the Co-operative Group, said:

'As a retailer at the heart of hundreds of communities

across the UK, we know first-hand how destructive anti-social behaviour can

be. These awards will bring much-needed recognition and support for those

people and organisations who are working to provide practical solutions to

these problems.'

NOTES

1. Hazel Blears launched the Taking A Stand awards on 27 June in Dean

Street, Oldham.

2. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act received royal assent on 21 November.

Key provisions include:

* Expanding the fixed penalty notices scheme to cover noise nuisance,

truancy, graffiti, and apply them to 16-17 year olds.

* Enabling schools, local authorities and youth offending teams to

offer a package of support and sanctions for parents to help them address

anti-social behaviour by their children.

* Allowing swift action from the police to close 'crack houses'

causing serious nuisance to the community.

* Restricting the use of air weapons and replica guns and banning air

cartridge weapons that are easily converted to fire live ammunition.

* Improving the operation of anti-social behaviour orders.

3. Each of the 32 winner s will receive £1,000 to help them continue

their work against anti-social behaviour. One overall winner will receive

£5,000.

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