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Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007, 01:03 GMT
'Bulldoze' estates, says Blunkett
David Blunkett
David Blunkett supported Asbos as home secretary
Former Home Secretary David Blunkett says some problem estates should be "bulldozed", with curfews imposed on unruly youngsters to prevent crime.

Early intervention would prevent young children becoming "the criminals of the future", he said.

He also said anti-social behaviour orders, which he enthusiastically backed as a minister, had not completely worked.

Speaking on ITV, Mr Blunkett said other justice measures needed to be used too.

Interviewed by Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, Mr Blunkett was asked if he still had faith in Asbos.

You're not helping them by ignoring them
David Blunkett
Former Home Secretary

He replied: "Not wholly. I think they've worked in part, but two other things need to happen.

"Firstly you need to combine them with a range of other criminal justice measures like the dispersal of curfew orders. Where that's been done it's worked much better.

"And secondly you actually do need the positive as well as the negative.

"If it's only seen as a negative then youngsters actually do, and would see it as a badge of honour."

His comments echo reports from the Youth Justice Board last year which said youngsters did see Asbos as a badge of honour, although some lords later dismissed the suggestion.

'Bulldoze' estates

Speaking about other options, Mr Blunkett said: "Some of the estates are beyond repair and to be honest we need to simply say that we can't carry on with people having to live in those conditions any longer."

With regeneration and "hope" among residents, it was possible to turn estates around, but "in the worst, we should bulldoze them."

He agreed with Miss Widdecombe when she suggested many teenagers committing offences had "actually started on that path when they're six or seven".

She said: "My concern is that the courts don't have very many remedies for the younger age group."

Mr Blunkett replied: "No, they don't and every time you or I or others have moved in that direction we've had the liberal media absolutely going bonkers about it."

He said "very early" intervention was the way to prevent teenage criminals, but other measures would help.

Shadow home secretary David Davis
David Davis described Asbos as 'gimmicks'

"So it's not just intervention with the youngsters, it's dysfunctional families, it's communities that don't support, it's actually saying these children, these youngsters, are going to be the criminals of the future.

"You're not helping them by ignoring them."

He also agreed with Miss Widdecombe's description of a Chicago police chief who had advocated an "absolute limit" on when children could be out at night.

Mr Blunkett said: "I think on particular estates it's well worth trying."

He also said downgrading cannabis from a Class B to Class C drug was not an easy decision.

"I don't think that it works everywhere, but I think concentrating on crack and heroin, actually dealing with the issue of the transfer, the gateway, from cannabis or from alcohol to crack and heroin are the big issues that we've now got to address."


Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said he was not surprised at Mr Blunkett's comments on Asbos.

"They could have been a useful weapon, although not a panacea, against anti-social-behaviour. "However, under Labour, they have been reduced to nothing more than an ineffective gimmick."

He added: "David Blunkett's words on anti-social behaviour will be of little comfort to the tens of thousands of people up and down the country whose lives have been blighted by the scourge of anti-social behaviour.

Tonight With Trevor McDonald is broadcast at 8pm on ITV1 on Friday, 19 January

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