Home Secretary David Blunkett is hoping to 'reclaim communities' from the scourge of anti-social behaviour. Here he explains how he plans to do it:
Your chance of being a victim of crime is at its lowest for 20 years but it
doesn't always feel like that.
I know that frightening gangs on street corners, neighbours from hell,
tearaway children and drug pushers are the very things which make us feel uneasy
They can ruin lives - they can certainly ruin the quality of our
Every town has problems with anti-social behaviour whether that is on a
particular estate or in the town or city centre.
A yobbish minority can
still make the lives of hard working citizens a living hell
Readers will all have first
It might seem relatively small - spray painted graffiti, an
abandoned car, a broken window. Or it can feel more threatening - a gang late at
night, a beggar at the cashpoint, young kids using passers-by as target
But left unchecked this has a big impact on communities.
pride in neighbourhoods and create a climate of lawlessness which more serious
Too often I hear from people in my own Sheffield constituency who are afraid
to step outside their front door, afraid of being mugged or whose lives are
being ruined by neighbours whose music blares out all night.
Crime has fallen by more than a quarter since 1997. But a yobbish minority can
still make the lives of hard working citizens a living hell.
We all need to play a
part in tackling this scourge
For too long some
of our public services have shrugged their shoulders at this low-level thuggery
and said it's somebody else's responsibility.
It's not - we all need to play a
part in tackling this scourge.
People cannot continue to expect something for
nothing - they must realise rights in our communities can only come when they
take responsibility for their actions and neighbourhood.
That's why I am setting out how the government plans to reclaim communities
for the decent, law-abiding majority.
We have already acted by starting to
reform the courts, introducing anti-social behaviour orders and piloting fixed
penalty notices, but I want to go further.
Noisy neighbours can cause great distress to families who endure night after
night of loud music or blaring televisions. This selfishness cannot be allowed
to go unstopped.
We will give more powers to local authorities and environmental
health officers so they can more easily tackle noisy neighbours through fines.
And they will also be given powers to close down pubs, clubs and entertainment
outlets which are shattering the peace of communities.
But noise can be just one part of a family's anti-social behaviour.
Parents whose children terrorise estates will be made to bring their children under
If they cannot do it on their own, we will help - but we will ensure
they face serious consequences if they don't take the support on offer.
want 16 and 17-year-olds to receive fixed penalty notices of up to £80 for
offences such as causing alarm or harassment, throwing fireworks or being drunk
Of course, drugs and the consequences of Class A drug addiction has a major
impact on many of our communities.
A crime wave follows in their wake which has
a devastating effect on local communities, causing nuisance, fear and
Crack houses attract the worst of our society - users can be
violent, aggressive and unpredictable.
I am proposing that drug dens where Class
A drugs are sold and used should be shut within 48 hours. They will be sealed
for three months so the dealers cannot simply move back.
Recent tragedies show the devastating effect guns can have on communities.
government is committed to taking guns off our streets. We will introduce a 5-year minimum sentence for illegal possession or use of a firearm.
replicas will be banned from public places.
The government knows these measures can only work with someone to enforce
Record numbers of police already patrol our streets - nearly 130,000, the
highest number since 1921.
We have increased the number of neighbourhood wardens
and there are more than 1,000 new community support officers who have a key role
to play in taking on anti-social behaviour.
Low-level thuggery is not a victimless crime. For too long people have not had
their voices heard. No longer will they suffer the insult of feeling their
rights are second to the criminal.
I want to speed up existing legislation so
justice is delivered more quickly and efficiently in the community.
But these measures will only be successful if everyone in society works
Residents, parents, local authorities and businesses need to show
leadership and use the new powers we are giving them.
Shops should not sell
alcohol to children and we will ensure they can't sell it to an adult buying it
on their behalf.
We all need to take responsibility - to stand-up and be counted
as a member of society, to make clear what types of behaviour are acceptable and
what are not, to report crimes to the police and to ask for help.
We need a culture change in our society - to accept that our rights as
citizens come with responsibilities, to move from selfishness to selflessness;
from disrespect to respect; from fear to confidence.
Working together we can
make a difference, turning all our communities into safe, clean places to live