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By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley ...
By LGCnet political correspondent Robert Hedley

People breaching anti-social behaviour orders must get the message that if they breach the terms of the order they face jail sentences of up to five years, home secretary David Blunkett told MPs.

He also promised to consider further extensions to the use of ASBOs.

Mr Blunkett said agreement had now been reached with the Magistrates Association on a code of guidance relating to breaches of anti-social behaviour orders.

'This will be very important because, as I have said before, if people get the message that they can get away with it, they will get away with it, but if the message is that breaches will be treated very severely, with up to a five-year custodial sentence, people will stop breaching those orders,' he declared.

He told Huw Irranca-Davies, Labour MP for Ogmore, the government last month issued new guidance on the use of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. It had also set up the Together action line and was establishing the Together academy to provide face-to-face training. This would ensure that training and support would be available in every part of England and Wales.

Mr Irranca-Davies said that during the two years he had been the greatest bane of his life had been constantly trying to persuade local agencies, authorities and divisional commanders to use ASBOs and related powers. 'In the past two years there had been none whatever,' he added.

He asked the home secretary to write to those people in his area to ensure there was at least some use of the powers.

Mr Blunkett said that better than that; Home Office minister Baroness Scotland would be in the Ogmore constituency this week talking about how to use the new legislation against anti-social behaviour.

Anne McIntosh, Conservative MP for Vale of York, said ASBOs and the new contracts used prior to them did not cover noise pollution and anti-social behaviour in public car parks, although they would cover such incidents on a private drive.

Mr Blunket t replied: 'I am happy to investigate how environmental health powers could be used in such cases, and how more general noise nuisance provisions could be applied to sources of nuisance in car parks - for example, where a local pub or club was not properly controlling or supervising what was taking place.'

Adrian Bailey, Labour MP for West Bromwich West, said his local authority, Sandwell MBC, believed ASBOs were making a positive mark in tackling anti-social behaviour. It had so far issued 16 ASBOs, with another nine in the pipeline.

Hansard 23 Feb 2004; Column 6 - 7

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