Monday, 10 June 2013

Home Secretary Theresa May plans to water down Asbos

Vandalism, dangerous dogs and nuisance neighbours make families’ lives a misery. People in Haslingden and Hyndburn want to know that if they are a victim of crime, or if they are being regularly harassed by yobs on their street, that the police will have the power and capability to restore peace as quickly and efficiently as possible. That’s why I supported Labour’s fight against crime and anti-social behaviour.

But I’m worried the clock is now being turned back. On top of big cuts to neighbourhood police, the Tories want to weaken police powers to fight anti-social behaviour. They need to rethink these policies as we need stronger action against crime instead of their weak approach.

Home Secretary Theresa May plans to water down Asbos so that someone who keeps ignoring police warnings, court orders and injunctions to stop terrorising the local estate will no longer be guilty of a crime. May plans to introduce the Community Trigger which gives people the right to demand that police deal with anti-social behaviour, meaning forces would have to investigate any incident reported by at least five people or any three complaints by the same person.

But victims who complain three times will only have the right to a review, and this is just the minimum requirement with the authorities able to wait much longer before taking further action if they choose to. The statistics from the Government’s own pilot scheme in Manchester, Brighton and Richmond show that of 44,011 antisocial behaviour incidents, the Trigger was only successfully activated 13 times.

The plans are weak on support for victims of repeated harassment and there are too many loopholes to let offenders off if police resources are tight. All this when the Government is already cutting 15,000 police officers.

They are also making it harder to use CCTV cameras by introducing more red tape at a cost of £14 million – money that could have been used to pay for 400 extra police officers. The Home Secretary supported CCTV in her own area – so why is she making it harder for everyone else?

This Bill should also do more to tackle dangerous dogs, especially after the awful attack on Jade Anderson. Labour wants Dog Control Notices which would force owners of problem dogs to keep them muzzled and on a lead in any public place in order to prevent attacks in the future.

This all goes to show that the Tories simply don’t understand the strains and pressures some of our communities are under. People in Haslingden and Hyndburn don’t want a Government that is soft on crime, and unfortunately that is exactly what they have at the moment.

The Home Secretary should change course and set out the stronger action our communities desperately need.