HC Deb 12 July 2004 vol 423 cc1125-6
21. Mr. Clive Betts (Sheffield, Attercliffe) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on his policies to combat antisocial behaviour. [183105]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart)

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced antisocial behaviour orders, and the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 provides a further range of tools to tackle antisocial behaviour. It reinforces the powers available to deal with antisocial behaviour, and along with the "Together" campaign it aims to make a lasting difference to the lives of people who experience antisocial behaviour day after day, and to change culture in communities where antisocial behaviour is tolerated rather than tackled. [Interruption.] We will continue to listen to feedback about the powers available, and we will consider legislating where necessary. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister is addressing the House; it is unfair that so much conversation is going on.

Mr. Betts

I thank the Minister for her reply. Will she commend Sheffield city council's housing department and South Yorkshire police, who are working increasingly closely together in my constituency and using the whole range of measures against antisocial behaviour? Does she also agree with Sergeant Andy Wilson, the local community sergeant, who points out that although some young people are serious antisocial offenders, many simply cause nuisance and annoyance to elderly people by hanging around in large groups? Would it not be better to find extra resources to target youth facilities and other local facilities in our communities, and to ensure that the police are not wasting their time and resources by moving on groups of young people from one estate to another? For all the good work that the Government are doing in this respect—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can save that for an Adjournment debate.

Fiona Mactaggart

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating the Sheffield trailblazer on its work in tackling antisocial behaviour. He is right to point out that the most effective work against antisocial behaviour operates in a two-pronged way. It provides positive activities for young people, in which this Government are investing at an unprecedented level, and the tools that the police and local authorities need to crack down on antisocial behaviour. That is why we have provided the new legislative powers that have been used in Sheffield.

Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann) (UUP)

I am sure that the Minister will agree that the initial legislation, introduced half a dozen years ago, was merely a first step, and that all the subsequent actions that the Government have taken through recent legislation and the Home Office's broad antisocial behaviour strategy have been very important additions to that first step. Will she therefore point out to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that it really is time he caught up with all that?

Fiona Mactaggart

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his welcome for the work that we have done. The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety will of course continue to have conversations with her colleagues in Northern Ireland to ensure that best practice is spread throughout the country.

Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Coop)

How does the Minister envisage that Liverpool's proposed community justice centre will be able to develop policies to deal with antisocial behaviour?

Fiona Mactaggart

The key to the proposed community justice centre is that it involves local people in delivering justice. Until now, the conviction and prosecution process has seemed very detached from the communities in which antisocial behaviour occurs. The community justice centre can bring that process back into the hands of the community, and make sure that justice is delivered by the people who are most affected by antisocial behaviour.