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Widdecombe highlights Labour's confusion over anti-social orders ...
Widdecombe highlights Labour's confusion over anti-social orders

Ann Widdecombe, shadow home secretary, today responded to Jack Straw's

remarks at the Local Government Conference in Bournemouth. Miss Widdecombe said:

'Jack Straw's speech today shows how he is prepared to blame everyone but himself for the rising tide of crime and lawlessness under Labour.

'It is no wonder that councils are not applying for anti-social behaviour orders when even the home secretary and his own ministers are so confused about them.

'Since the election, Jack Straw and the home office have said that these orders will tackle nuisance neighbours, should routinely be used against children and that they should not be used as a last resort.

'But they have also said that the orders are not intended to be used against neighbours, that their use against children should be 'exceptional' and that they are a weapon of last resort.

'It is no wonder that a recent government report on anti-social behaviour condemned 'policy gaps', 'confusion' and 'failure' and concluded that 'anti-social behaviour is not being tackled effectively'.

'Under Labour, crime is rising, police numbers have fallen and thousands of criminals are getting out of jail early on Jack Straw's special early release scheme.'


The following is an illustrative list of the confusion within the government over how anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) should be used.

- ASBOs will 'tackle' nuisance neighbours

'The new anti-social behaviour order will tackle the problem of criminal anti-social neighbours.'

Home Secreatry Jack Straw

(HC Deb, 21 July 1998, Col 913)

- ASBOs 'not intended' for disputes between neighbours

'they are not intended for run-of-the-mill disputes between neighbours'

Home office minister Alun Michael

(HC Deb, Standing Committee B, 30 April 1998, Col 48)

'Except in exceptional circumstances, the measure is not intended to deal with disputes between neighbours.'

Guide to the Crime and Disorder Act, Home Office website

'The process is not suitable for private disputes between neighbours.'

ASBO guidance document, Home Office website

- ASBOs are a 'last resort'

'We are not in any sense overselling the idea of the orders. They are indeed a last resort.'

Home secretary Jack Straw

(HC Deb, 12 July 1999, Col 16)

'As a general rule, an application for an anti-social behaviour order should be made either when other methods to prevent further misbehaviour have failed or when such methods have been considered but have been deemed either to be inappropriate in the circumstances or to be less effective than an order.'

ASBO guidance document, Home Office website

- ASBOs are 'not a last resort'

'Mr Straw also urges local authorities not to see anti-social behaviour orders as a measure of last resort.'

(Home Office Press Release 322/99, 15 October 1999)

'they are not a measure of last resort'

Jack Straw

(Letter to Local Authority Chief Executives, Home Office Press Release

322/99, 15 October 1999)

- ASBOs 'routinely' to be used against 'any child'

'As for the over-10s, anti-social behaviour orders will be available for any child.'

Jack Straw (HC Deb, 26 October 1998, Col 10)

'Applications may routinely be made for the middle and older age groups of juveniles and young people (eg 12 -17 year olds) as experience has shown that such individuals may commit serious acts of anti-social behaviour without adult encouragement or involvement.'

ASBO guidance document, Home Office website

- ASBOs against children to be 'exceptional'

'in respect of juveniles, I must make it clear that they are not the main targets of these orders. Their use against juveniles... would be

exceptional... I have already made it clear that the order is not being introduced primarily to deal with juvenile offending or youth justice, or to prevent offending by young people.'

Home Office Minister Alun Michael

(HC Deb, Standing Committee B, 30 April 1998, Cols 51-52)

- The government report referred to is 'Anti-social behaviour', published by Policy Action Team 8 in March 2000.

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