HC Deb 19 January 2004 vol 416 cc1071-2
13. Mr. Brian Jenkins (Tamworth) (Lab)

When the powers contained in the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 will be introduced. [148338]

The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (Ms Hazel Blears)

On 20 January, we will publish a guide to the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which will give the dates when the measures in the Act will be commenced.

Mr. Jenkins

While I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, we are all aware that introducing legislation is not the same as implementing legislation. Implementation is taken over by agencies such as the police. Will she consider asking the police ever so nicely—it is an operational issue—to make greater use of mobile closed circuit television units? Then, with the evidence in front of them, will she consider asking the police to make an appointment with the parents of some of the youngsters involved—either taking them into the station or going to their homes—and sit with both the youngsters and the parents so that parents are fully aware of the actions of their children and the implications once they become accomplices to those actions? They will no longer be able to claim that they are unaware.

Ms Blears

My hon. Friend makes the important point that enacting legislation in the House is not necessarily implementation. That is exactly why we have the "together" campaign, with the academy and the website running it out throughout the country. He has suggested an excellent solution to the problem, which I understand has been adopted by police forces in several areas—certainly in my community—whereby the police can intervene early and find the youngsters who are committing these actions, confront their parents and then work together with the parents to find solutions so that we can divert young people from behaving in this way. It is an excellent idea to get CCTV evidence, and I will be encouraging the police to do so.

Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West) (Con)

Does the Minister agree that communities used to police antisocial behaviour themselves? If parents could not or would not take action, the local bobby would do so swiftly. Is not that a model of policing that we should be trying to return to, rather than relying on lengthy processes of issuing orders and court proceedings that mean that, inevitably, much of the damage has been done by the time that any action is taken?

Ms Blears

Yes; I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware of the introduction of fixed penalty notices, which we have been piloting in a number of areas. We are about to roll them out nationally. They are very effective and there is swift justice on the spot. They confront young people with the consequences of their behaviour. I dare say that that is perhaps better than the traditional method of a clip round the ear. Those notices are beginning to be much more effective.