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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Cameron civic responsibility push
David Cameron
Mr Cameron wants to counter a rise in uncivilised behaviour
Conservative leader David Cameron is calling for a "revolution in responsibility" to counter a rising tide of anti-social behaviour.

He told the BBC Labour's "knee-jerk" reaction to any problem was to bring in new laws which often discouraged people from taking action themselves.

Less state intervention will be part of his "manifesto" for a better society.

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said Labour would take no lessons from Mr Cameron and his "hug a hoodie" Tories.


Mr Cameron told BBC Radio 4's Today that measures like anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) have been counter-productive, because they allow people to abdicate responsibility for their actions.

He also said police officers were discouraged from arresting people because of the forms that needed filling in afterwards, while head teachers did not exclude pupils because of fears they might be over-ruled.

Labour's respect agenda is fundamentally about equipping communities with the tools to fight those who seek to blight our neighbourhoods
Tony McNulty

Instead, Conservatives would encourage parents, neighbours, business people and teachers to take responsibility for bringing up children to behave properly and keeping their own communities in order.

A combination of less state interference, more support for families and "social enterprises", trusting people more would create a "framework of incentives that encourages civility and pro-social behaviour", he said.

Ahead of a speech on the issue he told the BBC: "We need a revolution in responsibility in this country, and for government that means setting a simple test for every policy: does it give people more responsibility, or does it take responsibility away from them?"

'Back up' needed

In his speech Mr Cameron argued that the government must aim to "build a society where... kids know how to behave in public, because that's how they've been brought up and that's what society expects".

His policy director, Oliver Letwin, also told the BBC: "There has been a welter of well intentioned measures, schemes, initiatives - Asbos, parental behaviour contracts, fixed penalty notices and most of these don't seem to be having a tremendous amount of effect."

But for the government, Mr McNulty said: "We will take no lessons from David Cameron and his 'hug a hoodie' Tories about how best to empower people to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

"Labour's respect agenda is fundamentally about equipping communities with the tools to fight those who seek to blight our neighbourhoods."

For the Liberal Democrats, Chris Huhne told the BBC that he agreed that there was a risk that putting problems entirely in the hands of the police meant people did not take personal responsibility for things.

"I have certainly come across in my constituency, that people no longer, for example, reproach children for bad behaviour because they are worried about what the reaction of parents might be," he said.

But he added that people needed measures like acceptable behaviour contracts and Asbos "as a back up".

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