Monday, 14 October 2013

Not listening on anti-social behaviour

Back in June this year I wrote:

“Vandalism, dangerous dogs and nuisance neighbours make families’ lives a misery. People want to know that if they are a victim of crime - or if they are being regularly harassed by yobs on their street - then the police will have the power and capability to restore peace as quickly and efficiently as possible. That’s why I strongly supported the measures – new laws, new penalties, additional resources – that Tony Blair’s government committed to the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour and, as a result, it fell considerably.

But, as I’ve argued before, I’m worried the clock is now being turned back. I make no apology for returning to the issue because it is so important. On top of big cuts to neighbourhood police, the Cameron/Clegg coalition wants to weaken police powers to fight anti-social behaviour. I’m clear that they need to rethink these policies, as we need stronger action against crime instead of their weak approach.”

Since then, colleagues and I have consistently told Conservative and Liberal Democrat Ministers that they are making it harder to fight antisocial behaviour and, unbelievably, wasting money in the process. We are not alone. 8 out of 10 people told the Office of National Statistics that antisocial behaviour had got worse in the last year.

Weakening antisocial behaviour powers is going to lead to lost police officer time
And the government is creating red tape to make it harder for the police and local councils to get CCTV will cost between £14m and £29m. – not my figures, but the government’s own assessment. The low estimate is equivalent to taking 400 police officers on the beat to deal with the new bureaucracy.

The Government’s proposed Community Trigger is weak, ineffective and doesn’t do what it says on the tin. In the pilot areas, the Trigger has been successfully activated just 13 times from a reported 44,011 antisocial behaviour incidents.

And the government is being far too weak on dangerous dogs. Scotland has already introduced Dog Control Notices which can enforce:
  • Muzzling the dog whenever it is in a place to which the public have access;
  • Keeping the dog on a lead whenever it is in a place to which the public have access;
  • If the dog is male, neutering it; and
  • The owner and their dog being required to attend and complete a training course in the control of dogs.

Why is the government not listening, when it could save money and provide far better protections for local people and communities?