HC Deb 17 November 2003 vol 413 cc679-81W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how he plans to keep(a) the police, (b) environmental health and housing officers and (c) the community informed of new powers resulting from legislation concerning anti-social behaviour; and how he will monitor the implementation of the new legislation; [137823]

(2) how he proposes to improve the efficiency of the administration of the implementation of anti-social behaviour legislation and orders; [137825]

(3) what measures are in place to hold local authorities to account for their role in the implementation of antisocial behaviour policies. [138368]

Ms Blears

All Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships will be required to set out their strategy for tackling anti-social behaviour as part of their three-year Crime and Disorder Reduction Strategy. This includes setting out the tools that they intend to use, available through new or existing legislation. It is the role of Government Offices to monitor the success of the Partnership against this strategy.

In addition "Together: Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour" the Government's Action Plan sets out our strategy to ensure that all available powers are understood, that they are used effectively and that all agencies support their local communities. We will be setting up the together Actionline and website to provide accurate and high quality information on a full range of interventions and access to innovative solutions. The together Academy will bring together practitioners to provide advice and training on specific issues, and to share knowledge about new solutions to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Mr. Woodward

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make additional funds available to local councils for the establishment of antisocial behaviour teams with(a) legal support and (b) people trained in taking witness statements. [138174]

Ms Blears

The Home Department has set aside £75 million for the next three years to tackle anti-social behaviour. The Home Office, through this money, will fund local authorities for work to tackle anti-social behaviour; however, it will be for individual local authorities to decide how they invest funding.

In addition through the together campaign the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit will improve performance across England and Wales by providing funding to support every Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP); establishing a together Academy, providing training to practitioners; and establishing a together Action Line, offering advice and information on all antisocial behaviour related matters.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety will meet the hon. Member for Crosby to discuss anti-social behaviour. [138278]

Ms Blears

I would be happy to meet with my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mrs. Curtis-Thomas). If she would contact my office a meeting can be arranged.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he intends to tackle the problem of binge drinking and associated anti-social behaviour. [138365]

Ms Blears

The answer I gave my hon. Friend on 16 September 2003,Official Report, column 659W, set out a number of legislative measures that are already in place to help tackle anti-social behaviour associated with drinking alcohol.

The Interim Analytical Report published by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in September highlighted the scale of alcohol misuse in England. The final report setting out the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England will be published in time for implementation to begin in 2004 and will contain measures to tackle the range of harms associated with alcohol misuse, including binge drinking and alcohol related crime and disorder.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on how powers of the police have been strengthened since 1997 to deal with antisocial behaviour. [138366]

Ms Blears

The Anti-social Behaviour Bill provides a number of new powers for the police:

  1. Powers to close premises that are being used for drug dealing or use and causing disorder or serious nuisance.
  2. The ability to issue penalty notices for truancy, for use when conducting truancy sweeps with the education welfare service
  3. A power to designate areas with a history of anti-social behaviour where they can disperse groups causing intimidation and take children home who are out on the streets late at night.
  4. New controls to tackle the misuse of air weapons and replica guns.
  5. Improved powers for dealing. with public assemblies and trespassers. This will help the police to deal with problems caused by intimidating protestors and illegal raves. There is a new power to move on trespassing encampments where there is a relevant site available.
  6. New powers for local authorities to intervene in neighbourly disputes regarding high hedges.
  7. Extension of the power to issue penalty notices for disorder to 16 and 17 year olds.
  8. The Criminal Justice Bill will extend police stop and search powers to circumstances where they have reasonable suspicion that articles made, adapted or intended for use in offences of criminal damage are being carried.

Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who will make up the nuisance neighbours panels; when they will be set up; how they will be able to be contacted; what powers they will have; and what measures will be put in place to ensure complainants are protected. [136271]

Ms Blears

Nuisance neighbour panels will be going live in early 2004. Work is currently being undertaken on the composition of the panels, and finalising their core functions. Once up and running the panels will be contactable through the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit in my Department. All complainants will be anonymised.

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