HC Deb 23 February 2004 vol 418 cc6-7
4. Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab)

What guidance he has issued on the use of antisocial behaviour orders and related powers to tackle nuisance behaviour. [155746]

The Secretary of State for the Home Department(Mr. David Blunkett)

In January, we issued new guidance on the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. We have also set up the "together" action line, and we are establishing the "together" academy to provide face-to-face training. We will ensure that in every part of the country—in every region, including in Wales—training and support will be available.

Huw Irranca-Davies

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. In the two years during which I have been a Member, the greatest bane of my life has been constantly trying to persuade local agencies, authorities and divisional commanders to use ASBOs and related powers. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to write to those people in my area to ensure that there is at least some use of those powers? In the past two years, there has been none whatever.

Mr. Blunkett

I can do even better than that. On Thursday, I am sending Baroness Scotland to engage in the big conversation in my hon. Friend's constituency: how to activate and use the new legislation against antisocial behaviour.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York) (Con)

Does the Home Secretary share my concern that ASBOs, and the new contracts that are used prior to them, do not cover noise pollution and antisocial behaviour in public car parks? The provisions on noise pollution would cover such an incident on a private drive but not in a public car park. Will the Home Secretary use his good offices to review that, and make such incidents subject to ASBOs?

Mr. Blunkett

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. I am happy to write to the hon. Lady on that.

Mr. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich, West) (Lab/Coop)

I thank my right hon. Friend for his replies. My own local authority, Sandwell, has pioneered ASBOs, having issued 16 to date with another nine in the pipeline. Its assessment is that they make a very positive contribution to tackling antisocial behaviour in the area. Has my right hon. Friend made an assessment of the percentage of ASBOs that are adhered to, and the percentage of those that are breached and result in custodial action, which is itself beneficial to the local community?

Mr. Blunkett

I am happy to do that. We have now reached agreement with the Magistrates Association on a code of guidance relating to breaches of antisocial 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 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.