Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 11:28 UK

Public 'let down' over disorder

Louise Casey
The government's anti-social behaviour tsar was appointed by Tony Blair

Politicians have "let people down" by failing to deal properly with anti-social behaviour, the government's neighbourhood crime tsar says.

Louise Casey cited the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter after suffering years of abuse from local teenagers.

Ms Casey told the Times newspaper: "You need to nip [the behaviour] in the bud as early as humanly possible."

The Home Office has recently published an anti-social behaviour action plan.

Swift response

Ms Casey said: "I am not suggesting that anybody is personally responsible for the extraordinarily tragic case of Mrs Pilkington and her daughter, but can you go to bed at night knowing everything is being done to prevent these things from happening? That is the test."

The public need to know that action is going to be taken, and it is tough action
Louise Casey,
Government crime and justice adviser

Ms Pilkington, 38, killed herself and her 18-year-old daughter Francecca by setting fire to their car in October 2007.

An inquest criticised the response of the police and the local authorities to her repeated complaints about the behaviour of a gang of youths.

Ms Casey said early action was crucial to deal with anti-social behaviour.

"There is no point in giving someone a warning letter if, when they rip it up, you don't go and visit them.

"There is no point doing a home visit which they ignore. There is no point doing interventions if there is no end product."

Ms Casey also criticised the criminal justice system, saying people wanted a "public justice system" not a "criminal's justice system".

Her own research has shown two-thirds of the public think the system respects the rights of the offender more than the victim.

She suggested it was easy for people working with offenders to start concentrating on their needs, rather than the public's.

Leaflets shaming criminals

Ms Casey said she was pleased her recommendation requiring criminals doing unpaid community work to wear orange jackets had been taken up.

She said the public needed to see "visible consequences for those who break the law".

And she defended a proposal to put the outcome of court cases on websites and leaflets.

She said: "If you don't break the law, you won't end up in a courtroom, you won't end up on a leaflet being put through somebody's door and you won't be discussed."

She added: "The public need to know that action is going to be taken, and it is tough action."

Home Secretary Alan Johnson launched the government's new anti-social behaviour strategy in response to what he called "coasting" on the issue.

The action plan means that in future, when an Anti-social Behaviour Order is breached by a young person, their parents will automatically be put under a court order.

It will also see Victim Support services extended to all victims of anti-social behaviour who give evidence against their attackers in magistrates courts.

Gordon Brown pledged to tackle anti-social behaviour as part of his speech to the Labour Party conference last month.

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