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Last Updated: Monday, 26 June 2006, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
National 'respect squad' unveiled
John Reid visits the Cathall Estate
John Reid launched the strategy on east London's Cathall Estate
A national "respect squad" is being launched by John Reid to help in the battle against anti-social behaviour.

Local councils, MPs and police chiefs will be able to call in the squad to help tackle cases of "yobbishness".

The squad, which will work across Wales and England, consists of 10 frontline local council and police staff.

Conservative home affairs spokesman David Davis said people wanted to see police on the streets taking action, not "another gimmick" from Mr Reid.

"Anti-social behaviour seriously blights many of our communities," the shadow home secretary said.

"What the public want is to see police on the streets, free from red tape to use their powers to catch and deter offenders."

Headline grabbing?

For the Lib Dems, home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said: "The idea that you can enforce respect up and down the country with a team of 10 Whitehall 'fixers' is nonsense.

"While the Home Office should of course support local initiatives and share best practice, these sort of headline-grabbing initiatives belittle the complexity of these problems."

But Mr Reid insisted: "The government's new respect squad will ensure there is no let up in tackling anti-social behaviour."

The squad will be led by the assistant director of the government's respect task force, Alex Rhind.

Mr Reid said it would offer the chance of swift resolution to challenging problems where other means appeared to have been exhausted.

Keeping public informed

It will also intervene where there is evidence of insufficient action being taken by local agencies.

Mr Reid said: "Anti-social behaviour ruins lives and fragments communities - particularly those in some of the most deprived areas of our country.

"We should and will be unremitting in our efforts to drive up standards of behaviour and enforce a culture of respect, for the benefit of all."

Each squad's recommendations will be passed to the chairman of the local crime and disorder reduction partnership.

The White Paper is designed to rebalance the criminal justice system in favour of the victim and the delivery of justice for all
David Blunkett

A copy of the squad's assessment will be made available to the public to reinforce residents' power to demand action.

Last week Mr Reid said his head was "on the block" over his bid to overhaul the troubled Home Office.

The Home Office has been hit by a series of problems, notably the release of more than 1,000 foreign prisoners without consideration for deportation, which led to the sacking of Charles Clarke as home secretary in May.

Mr Reid gathered his senior Home Office civil servants together last Wednesday to update them on his plans for the department.

Echoing the words of predecessor David Blunkett four years ago when he launched the government's Criminal Justice White Paper, Mr Reid said: "We need to rebalance the criminal justice system so that people believe that it is truly on their side," he said.

Mr Blunkett said in July 2002: "The White Paper is designed to rebalance the criminal justice system in favour of the victim and the delivery of justice for all."

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