HC Deb 15 September 2004 vol 424 cc1259-60
7. Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)

What recent discussions he has had with the chief constable of South Wales police on antisocial behaviour. [187925]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Don Touhig)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have regular discussions with the chief constables of all four Welsh police forces. The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 provides a wide range of tools to tackle antisocial behaviour. The Government are determined that people should be able to live their lives free from intimidation and harassment.

Chris Bryant

I wonder whether the Minister noticed the recent comments of the chief constable of South Wales police, which seem to suggest that she is very hesitant about using all the powers now available to her to deal with antisocial behaviour. Will the Minister explain to her that the people of Maerdy and Treherbert are sick and tired of young people marauding around the town, and that they want the police to take every step available to them under these powers?

Mr. Touhig

The chief constable of South Wales police was right to highlight the wide range of powers in place to tackle antisocial behaviour. The Government are determined to crack down on those who make life a misery for working people. In March of this year the third set of powers in the 2003 Act came into force, thereby giving the police greater scope for combating antisocial behaviour. I have a simple message for the authorities about those new powers. Now that they have them, there is no excuse: use them. They have the tools—they should now do the job.

Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab)

I echo the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), but I also commend the new chief constable for agreeing to attend a series of autumn meetings on antisocial behaviour in my constituency, at which, I am convinced, the message that these powers must be used will be rammed home. I ask the Minister to pay tribute to the work of the boys' and girls' clubs of Wales, which play an important role in tackling the scourge of antisocial behaviour by providing youngsters with responsible spare-time leisure activities. Will he receive a delegation to discuss their work?

Mr. Touhig

I would be happy to meet such a delegation. It is important that we engage with young people in order to overcome the problem of antisocial behaviour in our communities, and I am pleased that police forces and local authorities are now actively promoting the use of antisocial behaviour orders. Indeed, in the year to 31 March there has been a 171 per cent. rise in the number of ASBOs issued, which is to be welcomed. As I said earlier, the tools are now there for the authorities to do the job. We expect them to use them, and to tackle the antisocial behaviour that is a plague in our society.

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