HC Deb 12 July 2004 vol 423 c1121
14. Mr. Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the use of fixed penalty notices for antisocial behaviour in Barnet. [183097]

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

Penalty notices provide the police with a quick and effective tool for dealing with low level, disorderly behaviour and divert those minor cases from the courts. In the past three weeks, police in Barnet have been conducting a successful operation, targeting antisocial behaviour that occurs on Friday nights. Around 40 penalty notices were issued in Barnet between April and June; 20,000 have been issued nationally.

Mr. Dismore

The Barnet police borough commander recently told me that he was highly sceptical about the effectiveness of the notices. However, he subsequently changed his view. He originally used rather unparliamentary language, describing them as something akin to a dog's reproductive anatomy. However, he has authorised me to say to the House that he now considers them to be an effective, precision-guided impact weapon in the fight against antisocial behaviour. He has issued 75 since May and believes that relentless follow-up of the fines is required. Will my hon. Friend consider whether some of the money could come back to Barnet to enable us to continue the campaign against antisocial behaviour?

Ms Blears

I am delighted that the borough commander has changed his view on fixed penalty notices. Perhaps I would prefer him to refer to them as the cat's whiskers rather than his original description. I am pleased that fixed penalty notices have been welcomed throughout the country. It takes approximately half an hour to deal with a case with a fixed penalty, as opposed to two and a half hours to complete the paperwork for a charge. Each fixed penalty notice saves the criminal justice system approximately £100. Police universally welcome the notices as a quick, effective way in which to get the message across. We will use many more as part of our alcohol enforcement campaign.