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Last Updated: Monday, 14 February, 2005, 12:50 GMT
'Nuisance' families face action
Broken window
The government is already planning to target young vandals
A quarter of "nuisance neighbours" have been evicted from previous homes, new government research has suggested.

A Home Office study of 100 cases of bad anti-social behaviour showed 39% of the families involved had children who did not go to school regularly, if at all.

Ministers are pledging 1.25m for tackling bad behaviour and parenting - backed by the threat of eviction.

The Tories say ministers are relying on gimmicks and the Lib Dems say the plans only move trouble elsewhere.


The government announced last October it was creating another 50 anti-social behaviour action zones after trialling its measures in 10 areas.

On Monday, Home Office Minister Hazel Blears announced the new funds for intensive family support programmes in the new areas.

Asbos - the sweeping of a problem under a rug
Oliver, UK

"Those parents who persist in letting their kids run wild, or behave like yobs themselves, will face intensive rehabilitation in 50 more areas across the country, backed by the threat of enforcement," she said.

She said the review of the first 100 cases handled by neighbour nuisance expert panels showed 39% of those targeted thought their behaviour had improved due to a warning, Asbo, acceptable behaviour contract or the threat of eviction.

And 30% thought increased family support had helped them.

The review also showed:

  • 67% of those targeted were families, half of them lone parents, the rest couples with children

  • In 38 per cent of the families, children were not attending school regularly or at all

  • 25% had been evicted from a previous address

  • Half of the cases involved threatening and intimidating behaviour

  • Cases had been dragging on for many years: the longest standing case had lasted for 18 years

  • The problems were curtailed in 66% of the cases, according to follow-up studies.

Eviction threat

Home Office Minister Hazel Blears announced the new measures, as well as plans to target other forms of anti-social behaviour, on a visit to a family support project in Eccles, Salford.

Speaking on a visit to a programme in Eccles, Greater Manchester, Ms Blears said: "It seems to me that tough enforcement, the possibility of looking at eviction actually does concentrate minds wonderfully."

A minority of families could blight whole areas, she said, but were being offered a "last chance" if they were prepared to change.

Headline focus?

Conservative home affairs spokesman David Davis said: "Ordinary people want workable solutions to difficult, nuisance neighbours, not attention grabbing headlines and gimmicks."

For the Lib Dems, Mark Oaten said: "The solution for nuisance neighbours depends on changing behaviour, not just doling out punishment.

"Simply evicting troublesome families moves the problem to other locations."

The funds announcement comes as think tank Civitas branded UK crime fighting measures the least effective in Europe.

Its report said ministers were failing to take the most basic measures to persuade offenders to change, such as getting them off drugs and providing basic qualifications.

Falling crime rates were scant comfort, it suggested, as they were reduced from the artificially high peak seen in the 1990s.

Why the government is targeting 'problem' families

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