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The key point that my hon. Friend raised was about the use of antisocial behaviour powers by local councils. I believe that a real effort is being made by many authorities across the country to use their powers in support of the police; we want the police and other agencies to use their powers to ensure that we bear down on this curse, which still persists in many areas. As he mentioned, this Government have introduced a range of powers over the past 11 or 12 years to help support the tackling of antisocial behaviour and to provide real powers-not just for the sake of it, but to provide a positive outcome for the communities that we all serve. My hon. Friend and you will know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that acceptable behaviour contracts, antisocial behaviour orders, crack house closure orders, demotion orders, dispersal orders, intervention orders, parenting orders, premises closure orders and fixed penalty notices
are but some of the key powers that we have introduced since 1997 to help support communities. As my hon. Friend said, many authorities use those powers and penalties to try to make communities safer, and I pay particular tribute to Manchester city council and Nottingham city council, which he mentioned.
Let us consider the use of powers to tackle antisocial behaviour in just the six-year period between 2003 and 2009. During that time, nearly 15,000 ASBOs were used across the country; they were used not only by local councils, but by other agencies and organisations. Those ASBOs have had a real impact on antisocial behaviour in the communities in which they were used. They have been coupled with nearly 14,500 parenting contracts, 9,000 antisocial behaviour injunctions and nearly 50,000 acceptable behaviour contracts. Those are just some examples of powers not merely being put on the statute books but being used, in real time, by those with authority to make a difference on the ground.
I only heard the initial details of my hon. Friend's survey today, but I shall look at it with interest if he will do me the courtesy of sending me a copy. With officials in my office and my colleagues in local government departments and, potentially, in the Welsh Assembly, I shall consider those powers to assess how local authorities are using them. Ultimately, the use of such powers by local councils is a matter for them. They have the power to use them, and, dare I say it, rather like in the House of Commons, the constituents whom they serve have the power to press local councillors. Councils have the authority to use those powers in a positive way.
John Mann: I am an advocate locally of naming and shaming the bullies and thugs. Will the Minister consider naming and shaming local authorities? For example, 95 per cent. of Conservative authorities have never used the legislation to remove graffiti, 60 per cent. have never used the noise violation legislation and 85 per cent. of councils overall have never used the legislation on fireworks. Is it not time that the Government named and shamed those councils that refuse to use these powers at all?
Mr. Hanson: As I said, the use of those powers is a matter for the local councils. I would be interested to see my hon. Friend's figures because if there are real concerns on the ground, we need to consider what measures we can take with the police, local councils and other agencies to make a difference.
As my hon. Friend will know, the cost of not taking action is enormous, and not just emotionally for victims and financially for the wider community. Antisocial behaviour costs the taxpayer £3.4 billion a year, and many practitioners need to use their tools and powers to make a difference on the ground. When those powers are used, there is evidence that they make a difference. I would be interested to see the perception levels in the local authorities that my hon. Friend has identified to see whether there is a correlation between high levels of perception of antisocial behaviour and low levels of use of those powers.
Overall, the perceived levels of antisocial behaviour have fallen since 2003, when nationally they were 21 per cent. We had the British crime survey last week, which showed that 15 per cent. of the population felt that levels of antisocial behaviour were high in the last quarter-September 2009-for which we took a survey
result. There has been a downward drive in people's concerns about antisocial behaviour and I would be interested to see whether there is a correlation between perceptions and action in the areas that my hon. Friend mentioned.
The use of ASBOs, in particular, has been essential in driving down the perception of such behaviour. In 2006, a National Audit Office report on antisocial behaviour found that 65 per cent. of individuals did not re-engage in antisocial behaviour after receiving the first intervention, and ASBOs are a key intervention. So an ASBO or other intervention stopped, immediately and permanently, the antisocial behaviour of 65 per cent. of people the first time around. After the second intervention, that proportion rose to 86 per cent. and, after the third, to 93 per cent. Those individuals who have been involved in antisocial behaviour desist from that after one, two or three interventions. The communities of which they are part, on behalf of which action has been taken, are safer and more confident. We see a rise in confidence in policing and local councils, and falling perceptions of antisocial behaviour. People see a difference in the quality of their lives.
The public can monitor such progress and do considerable work on the issue by looking at antisocial behaviour levels in their communities. I urge residents of Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire and every other authority where they feel that these powers are not being used not just to raise those issues with their local councillor but to speak to the antisocial behaviour team, which they should have in their communities. I urge them to speak to their neighbourhood policing officer or their local constable, to use their local police non-emergency number and to look at the Government's website on antisocial behaviour, which is part of our commitment to those who are suffering from harassment. They should use the website to get in touch and ask why the powers are not being used to solve the problems. Those things should be locally driven as much as driven by central Government.
Last November, through the Justice Seen, Justice Done campaign, we launched a newly developed crime and justice website, part of direct.gov. That is a key way for people to access information about police, crime, justice and antisocial behaviour services. People can look not just to powers such as antisocial behaviour orders; they can nominate areas to be cleaned up by offenders, through the community payback and supporting services in the community schemes. With the policing pledge, those services are extremely important.
Antisocial behaviour orders work. In Grantham, for example, an individual called Leigh Buff was convicted in May 2007 of assault and public order offences. He was banned from the town centre at night. The antisocial behaviour team worked with him and a year after his order he was allowed to go into the town centre and has not been in trouble with the police since. In Stoke-on-Trent, a young boy of 11 was responsible for a third of all the antisocial behaviour calls the police received over three months. He even went as far as threatening to attack his father with a knife. He bullied another boy in school until his mother took him out of school. On receiving an ASBO, a parenting order and an individual support order, the behaviour stopped. Not only that, but the judge in question praised the work of the agencies in that area.
There is real merit in antisocial behaviour orders. They have been shown to be of value and they work, but we need to do more. I shall indicate what the Government are doing to tackle antisocial behaviour more generally.
I hope the House is aware, as I am sure my hon. Friend is, that on 13 October 2009 the Home Secretary wrote to all crime and disorder reduction partnerships and community safety partnerships in England and Wales challenging them to develop and publicise minimum standards on antisocial behaviour, and communicate effectively to the public. That includes the use of ASBOs in the local community, and the expectation of their use. We need to take action to reduce perceptions of antisocial behaviour year on year; to give regular updates to the community about what is being done, which I hope will highlight the issues my hon. Friend mentioned; to offer support and practical help to victims of antisocial behaviour; to give residents proper rights of complaint; and to ensure that we take reports of antisocial behaviour seriously by recording and investigating and committing to keep victims informed of the action taken. I have set a target of March 2010 for all authorities to draw up those minimum standards. We are monitoring the work closely, and I suggest that my hon. Friend does the same. One of the key things we want to do is to get out the kind of information he has had to drag out through freedom of information provisions, so that local communities know what is being done in their area.
In 62 partnership areas where perceptions of antisocial behaviour are high-more than 25 per cent.-we have targeted specific support from the Home Office. Officials from my Department are meeting the partnerships, all of which are undergoing rigorous self-assessment processes. We are looking at their improvement plans to ensure that we up their ante on antisocial behaviour. In the next quarter, we shall be doing that in a very positive way. As part of those plans, members of the antisocial behaviour action squad from central Government are being deployed to provide advice and support, and to
ensure that tools such as ASBOs are not just on the statute book but are implemented, where appropriate, so that we make a difference.
My hon. Friend made the case for positive activity as well as for ASBOs. As he knows, three Departments-the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Children, Schools and Families-have a youth crime action plan, in which we are investing £100 million not just in visible policing after school or stay safe operations to make sure the streets are safe at night for young people, and not just in reparative community-based activity or engaging with hard to reach young people; we are also looking at doing the positive things my hon. Friend mentioned. We want to make sure that we provide activity on Friday and Saturday nights. I went to Liverpool in October to see Friday night activity there. Many activities were going on. A cinema had been hired by the local police and the partnership to ensure that young people, on a particularly difficult night-Hallowe'en-were offered alternative activities. That is important, and I commend my hon. Friend's plans for the use of a cinema in his constituency.
The Government will not tolerate antisocial behaviour. We have put plans in place to deal with it. Our record shows that the Labour Government have introduced measures which can and should be used. They are effective, they make a difference and they are being used across the country. They should be implemented as a way of reducing that dreadful activity where it occurs.
I am sure my hon. Friend's survey will highlight the issue in a constructive way. I will look at it and between us, no doubt, we can help to raise the level of activity-not for the council, the Government or Members of Parliament, but for those who are hard pressed in their communities by behaviour that we should not accept and which we need to stamp out. I commend my hon. Friend on raising this debate and I hope we can work together to take action on the issue.