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We carried out investigations of local areas for blockages in the system but they proved inconclusive. They suggested that a more strategic approach was needed to unpick and resolve a range of minor problems. We therefore identified four areas where we would expect higher use of ISOs, based on the current use of stand-alone ASBOs for juveniles. Those areas are Manchester, Lancashire, Leeds and London. YOT and court representatives from those areas have been engaged in round table discussions over the past three months with the Home Office, the Youth Justice Board and Her Majesty’s Courts Service, which is part of the Department for Constitutional Affairs, to establish where the problems lie and what needs to be done to overcome them. As my hon. Friends the Members for Stockport and for North-West Leicestershire said, part of the solution must and will include training for magistrates, and that is in process.

When we first examined the reasons for low take-up, we were told that YOTs’ reluctance to use ISOs stemmed from their misgivings about the affordability of the programme. We responded promptly to those concerns by giving £500,000 to the Youth Justice Board in June 2005; the Youth Justice Board then wrote to all YOT managers to notify them about the extra funding and a subsequent letter was sent from Rod Morgan, chairman of the Youth Justice Board. Unfortunately, that has failed to generate many more ISO applications. Of the £500,000 made available, only £62,000 was spent. When funding is made available, it is not always used, but given how worthwhile the orders are, we expected greater take-up. The Youth Justice Board analysed the small number of applications that it received and found that in 29 out of the 31 recorded cases the risk of the young people reoffending was reduced. That is evidence of the value of the orders.

We know that YOTs have concerns about future funding and we have responded to make the longer-term position more secure by including it in the Youth Justice Board’s £45 million uplift for preventive measures. Seven YOTs have included specific ISO intervention schemes in their plans for the use of that prevention budget for the period up to March 2008. All YOTs are required to support ISO intervention, whether or not there is a specific scheme. Such support might be delivered through another programme funded by an allocation from that budget, such as youth inclusion programmes or youth inclusion and support panels, or through an existing programme.

It is clear that money is available to maintain and increase the ISO programme. We will review and monitor the programme where necessary; it will be an ongoing process. We agreed with the Youth Justice Board and the Department for Constitutional Affairs a joint action plan to boost take-up with a strong focus on communication. Many hon. Members made that point during the debate. That joint action plan is based on providing information and encouragement to sentencers, court staff, YOT managers and antisocial behaviour practitioners. We publicised ISOs in relevant publications, on websites and at events and conferences. For example, we ensured that the TOGETHER ActionLine promotes ISOs when giving advice about ASBOs and updates its website with appropriate prompts to ISOs from the ASBO pages.

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The Youth Justice Board website also carries information on ISOs for practitioners. In addition to the joint Home Office, Youth Justice Board and Association of Chief Police Officers guidance to YOTs on their role in dealing with antisocial behaviour, the forthcoming “Bigger, Better, Bolder” guidance on ASBOs contains advice on issuing ISOs and promotes a success story.

Our aim is to guide YOTs to ask for and provide ISOs, and to request the courts to order them in appropriate cases. Again, I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport that we intend to write to all YOTs to inform them of our desire for progress. Other Members raised the importance of pressuring YOTs to look at why the measure is not being used as much as it should be. I assure my hon. Friend that a letter will go out to all YOTs, including those in Stockport.

The practitioners in the areas visited when research on low take-up was conducted spoke enthusiastically about ISOs. In Manchester, YOTs, courts and antisocial behaviour practitioners have set an example to others by working in partnership. They promote good communication between themselves, and the YOT has even been proactive in preparing a leaflet for its local courts to advise them on their ISO procedures.

Practitioners attending the respect academies currently in progress are also very positive, although, unfortunately, we continue to experience difficulties in shifting negative perceptions in some quarters. We still hear anecdotally that sentencers have insufficient knowledge of ISOs. I hope that my hon. Friend’s debate helps to raise the profile of ISOs so that we can start to address the issue.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that in some cases there was confusion about how ISOs were supposed to be used when they were introduced. Now the YOTs, ASB practitioners and courts have all the necessary guidance and funding in place to make them work. There is no reason for not using them where they are needed.

In other areas, however, blockages remain and, despite the best efforts of the Youth Justice Board to inform local YOTs, there is a continuing misconception that ISOs are centrally underfunded. We intend to maintain a strong momentum in delivering the positive messages to practitioners on ISOs to step up their use. Every hon. Member who has spoken in the debate said how important they think the use of ISOs is. I hope that message is heard loud and clear throughout the country.

We are in a position to take stock of the information gleaned from the nationwide meetings and some of the useful discussions with practitioners at the respect academies, and we are considering further proposals for the future. We must ensure that young people get all the support they need to tackle their antisocial behaviour. The Government want tough enforcement of the law and appropriate action taken against people who are causing problems, but alongside that we want the necessary support.

Again, we always get into the debate about either/or, but in a modern social policy there should be both. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport is one of the toughest proponents of enforcing the law on the streets, but she also recognises the need for support alongside
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that tough approach. In my own communities, people want a tough approach, but they want young people to be supported too. The Government are very keen to do that.

We are continuing to have meetings at official level between the Home Office, the Youth Justice Board and the Department for Constitutional Affairs to consider short, medium and long-term actions. In the longer term, that includes considering the prospect of making legislative changes to strengthen the use of ISOs. In the medium term, we need the best efforts of the Youth Justice Board to monitor and provide guidance on their use, and we are discussing with it how best to do that. Of course, we would rather not be having this dialogue at all. We are looking at legislative change, but no decision has been made about that yet.

As I said earlier, all YOTs in England and Wales have recently received additional funding until March 2008 to establish or enhance local prevention programmes. We know that many YOTs linked new and existing prevention services directly to ISOs. The delivery of 110 youth inclusion programmes, 220 youth inclusion and support panels, and expenditure of £9.5 million on parenting initiatives with that funding is designed to tackle the underlying causes of antisocial behaviour.

The hon. Member for Castle Point will be pleased to note the parenting initiatives, which will try to make some parents more responsible for the actions of their children. As we know, the vast majority of parents are responsible. We have a problem with a minority and we need, where possible, to see these parenting initiatives alongside greater use of parenting orders.

Bob Spink: The Minister has been more than generous in giving way. I am sure that he will accept that alcohol is a key driver in antisocial behaviour among young people, and he knows that the police are using their powers under the Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997 in every constituency virtually every day of the week.

Where the police are falling down is the fact that they are not following the law through to its conclusion. The law gives them not just the ability but the duty to involve the parents on every occasion when the alcohol is removed from the young person. Officers should not simply take the alcohol and pour it down the drain, but ensure that the young person’s parents are involved and informed so that they can intervene at an early stage. Will the Minister consider giving further instructions to the Association of Chief Police Officers and other bodies to ensure that the police understand their duty in that respect?

Mr. Coaker: We are working closely with the police and with trading standards departments to tackle the problem of under-age drinking. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the figures, he will see a huge increase in the number of test purchases made through trading standards to tackle the problem. There has also been a big increase in work with schools to try to educate on alcohol. Of course there is a problem, but the Government are taking major steps to tackle it. Discussions on what more we can do are ongoing and will continue over the next few months.

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The funding provided by the Youth Justice Board has generated local partnership funding in excess of £30 million. All YOTs are required to support interventions using ISOs whether or not there is a specific scheme in operation. Such support may be delivered through a programme funded by an allocation from the prevention budget or through an existing programme.

As an example, youth inclusion and support panels aim to prevent the committing of offending and antisocial behaviour by children referred to them. Such panels are made up of representatives from a variety of organisations, which can include YOTs, the police, social services, housing services, probation, education, Connexions, the voluntary sector, antisocial behaviour units and the fire service. That is not an exhaustive list—it can be tailored to local circumstances. The panels meet regularly to consider referrals made to them and devise an integrated support plan, which I shall explain.

Each young person referred to a YISP is given a comprehensive assessment, which highlights such things as risk factors, a history of offending and antisocial behaviour, and protective measures that need to be maintained or built upon. From the information gained, an integrated support plan is tailored to, and agreed by, the young person in question and their family.

Inclusion and support panels seek to ensure that children have access to mainstream services, identify the extent of key worker involvement and direct service delivery needed, and inform the extent to which the panel will have a commissioning role. Panels regularly review each inclusion and support programme, which is expected to last between three and six months, to ensure its effectiveness. Any involvement with a YISP is voluntary and therefore requires the written consent of both a young person and their parents, which again shows the crucial role that parents can play. If parents evade their responsibility, we need to take measures to ensure that they do not continue to do so.

The respect drive is a cross-Government strategy to tackle bad behaviour and nurture good, helping to
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create a modern culture of respect. It builds on strong progress in tackling antisocial behaviour, but goes further and deeper to prevent the next generation from becoming involved in such behaviour. It does so through action on poor parenting, problem families and bad behaviour in schools.

An action plan was published in January 2006, setting out a comprehensive programme to promote positive behaviour and bear down uncompromisingly on antisocial behaviour, tackling its causes and strengthening the local accountability of public services. Programmes will be targeted in the most deprived areas to ensure that help goes where antisocial behaviour and lack of respect are experienced most.

The key priorities are a new approach to tackling problem families, a wide-ranging programme to address poor parenting, strengthening communities through more responsive public services, improving behaviour and attendance in schools, and constructive activities for young people. Significant progress has already been made since January; the pace of delivery is being maintained across those Departments responsible.

As hon. Members will know, the respect agenda is an important part of the Government’s drive to tackle antisocial behaviour. We all know that such behaviour is a problem and that tackling it is about not just passing laws, but changing the culture and attitudes. The Government are working hard to deal with the problem.

ISOs are playing their part in the wider battle to combat antisocial behaviour and promote positive behaviour. They have proven potential to help young people to turn around their lives and move away from antisocial behaviour and offending. I share the enthusiasm for ISOs of my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, and I hope that she and other hon. Members will encourage local agencies to make more use of such a highly effective intervention tool.

In the few seconds remaining, I say to hon. Members—

Frank Cook (in the Chair): Order. We must redirect our attention to the next debate.

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Men’s Health

11 am

Dr. Howard Stoate (Dartford) (Lab): The evidence of men’s and boy’s poor mental well-being is all around us. Some 75 per cent. of people who kill themselves are men, most of them young men, among whom suicide is the commonest cause of death. One man in eight is dependent on alcohol and 72 per cent. of male prisoners suffer from two or more mental disorders, while boys are five times more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls.

Alarming numbers of men are unhappy, anxious, stressed and depressed. The results of a recent YouGov survey for the Men’s Health Forum show that more than 18 million men in the UK could be affected by common mental health problems. The survey found that men in the UK experience very high stress levels, with nearly half—46 per cent.—suffering from moderate or extreme stress in a normal week. Just over half— 51 per cent.—said that they felt down, stressed, depressed or anxious at least once a month, while one in 10 felt that way a few times a week or even every day. Up to 76 per cent. of men have experienced depression or anxiety in their lives. The study also shows that while mental health is a major problem, nearly one fifth of men suffer in silence and do not turn to anyone for help.

What causes such men to feel stressed, depressed and down? Some 48 per cent. of men blame work or study as the key trigger for mental health problems, while 44 per cent. blame financial worries. Fast-paced living was mentioned as the cause by 27 per cent. of men, and relationship problems by 25 per cent.

Earlier this month, during national men’s health week, the all-party group on men’s health, which I chair, held a meeting with the all-party group on mental health. We heard from experts in the field of men’s and boys’ mental well-being. David Wilkins, from the Men’s Health Forum, presented a new report on the issue, “Mind Your Head: Men, boys and mental well-being”, which argues that although women are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental disorder, problems in men are massively under-diagnosed.

According to the report, in many cases that is simply because we do not fully understand the differences between how mental health problems manifest themselves in men and women. The report concludes that

That conclusion is at odds with the importance given to mental well-being by the general public. The publication of the White Paper, “Our health, our care, our say”, followed an extensive consultation programme, in which a focus on mental well-being was ranked second on the general public’s list of priorities for the NHS. Only regular preventive health checks were considered more of a priority.

Specialists recognise that importance too. The National Institute for Mental Health in England is explicit about the benefits to the nation of working to enhance mental well-being. In “Making it possible: improving mental health and well-being in England”, the institute wrote:

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At the meeting of the all-party groups, we also heard from Dr. Phil Timms of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who told us that men tend to like being in control, which can prevent them from seeking help. However, if that can be turned around so that men see that they are taking control of their own health, it might be positive.

Men’s mental health problems are often missed by GPs and friends because they are covered up. Dr. Timms also spoke about a friend of his who committed suicide while at medical school and had not spoken to anyone about his feelings. He also noted that that is not uncommon. Instead, men start drinking, take risks and become angry or complain of headaches, rather than admitting that they are feeling distressed or depressed.

National men’s health week looked at men’s mental well-being. At national level, the Men’s Health Forum worked closely with 40 other organisations to make the week a success and to show what can be done to improve men’s mental well-being. I shall not list all 40 organisations, but partners in the week included the Royal Mail, which is the country’s biggest employer of men, the TUC, and charities such as the Mental Health Foundation, the Samaritans and the Afiya Trust. The Department of Health and NHS organisations were also partners. They all did some great work, showing what can be done to improve men’s mental well-being.

The partners also worked with Haynes Publishing to produce the “Brain Manual”, which was compiled by a good friend of mine, Dr. Ian Banks. He is not only president of the Men’s Health Forum, having done a huge amount of work in support of men’s health, but has recently been appointed as one of only two professors of men’s health in the country. About 2,000 local events took place in national men’s health week too. These events—run by NHS professionals, voluntary groups and occupational teams—undertook an extremely broad range of activity in an even broader range of settings. Activities ranged from display stands and father-and-son days to a five-a-side football competition and everything in between.

In my constituency in Dartford, the primary care trust health promotion team worked with pharmacists on a leaflet that they could either give to clients as a takeaway or use to prompt conversations on health issues. The overall aim is to engage men in promoting activities in ways that are local and flexible. Pharmacists, as we know, are both local and flexible. I am delighted that my local PCT and local council were able to get involved in men’s health week.

I had the good fortune to chair a recent men’s health supported conference on men’s mental well-being, at which the Minister also spoke. That conference and the “Brain Manual” received financial support from the Government, for which I know the Men’s Health Forum was extremely grateful. The Government were also supported by the Mental Health Foundation and the Football Association.

The wide range of factors that positively and negatively influence a man’s mental well-being were explained and discussed at the event. The Football Association highlighted how sport can help to improve mental well-being. It has announced that it has appointed former England captain Tony Adams as a new football for all ambassador, with specific responsibility for mental health.

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