HC Deb 20 November 2000 vol 357 cc9-10
4. Mr. Syd Rapson (Portsmouth, North)

How many parenting orders have been imposed under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; and how many are being processed. [137447]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Paul Boateng)

Information from the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales indicates that between 30 September 1998 and 31 March 2000, some 284 parenting orders were made in the pilot areas. Information on the number of parenting orders currently being considered is not available centrally, but the order became available nationally on 1 June 2000.

Mr. Rapson

I recognise the success of the parenting orders in the pilot areas, but does my right hon. Friend share my concern about the reluctance—certainly in Portsmouth—of local authorities and police to take up anti-social behaviour orders? Can the Government do anything to encourage organisations to get together to use a facility that will reduce crime and the causes of crime?

Mr. Boateng

Fortunately, reluctance is being overcome—some 130 ASBOs have been successfully obtained and are making a real difference. It is to be hoped that the same degree of perseverance and focus that was shown by my hon. Friend's local authority and by the police covering the Wessex youth offender team, if applied to anti-social behaviour, will have the same success. They were successful with the YOT and with parenting orders; they can do it with the ASBOs, and we look forward to their doing so.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks)

If only about 100 ASBOs have been obtained in a year and a half, can the Minister really say that Labour legislation is working properly?

Mr. Boateng

Certainly that is the experience both of the police and of local authorities and also of those neighbours and fellow citizens who have seen peace and tranquillity return to their neighbourhoods as a result of the ASBOs.

Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald)

How many?

Mr. Boateng

One hundred and thirty. It would help if Conservative Members, who constantly bewail the so-called failure of ASBOs, did not call for them to be torn up—their helpful contribution to the debate. The Conservatives let down honest, decent people who seek a quiet and tranquil life; ASBOs meet the needs of those people—it is time that the Opposition woke up to that fact.

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

In the spring, the chief constable of Gloucester said that at last we had a Government who understand the causes of youth crime. We have put measures in place, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Rapson) pointed out, they need to be expanded rapidly. In my constituency, there are estates where elderly people in particular look forward to the early implementation of such orders. Will my right hon. Friend encourage chief constables to look again at the application of such orders?

Mr. Boateng

I was in Gloucester yesterday; the measures certainly have made a difference there. Chief constables are responding positively to the most recent guidance issued by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. All the signs are that it is beginning to make a difference. Regional crime directors are now in place in order to get the message home. The difference is becoming apparent on the ground. We want, efforts to be redoubled to ensure that we take forward that important initiative.