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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
MP's quest to curb unruly youths
Police patrolling estate in Nelson near Caerphilly
There is concern that community officers are not fully appreciated
An MP is stepping up the fight against "gross" bad behaviour by calling for greater powers of arrest for police community support officers.

Caerphilly MP Wayne David says youngsters have been riding bikes across the roofs of old people's flats on one estate in Nelson.

His 10-minute rule bill has little chance of becoming law.

But Mr David hopes it will help to focus government attention on tackling such problems.

I am hopeful that these measures will be put on the government agenda in future
Wayne David

His bill calls for the community officers to be given more powers to arrest people in certain circumstances.

It also wants them to be able to confiscate alcohol from adults behaving in an anti-social way.

Chief Superintendent Howard Rees, of Gwent Police, said: "We have a range of powers to deal with relatively low-level anti-social behaviour and criminality, but predominantly they are issues which affect people's quality of life and that is very important.

"Those are the issues that members of the public in our communities actually want us to deal with".

'No real teeth'

The community officers are being used experimentally until 2006. But Mr David said they have "no real teeth to do anything by themselves".

Chief Superintendent Howard Rees
Chief Supt Howard Rees says 'quality of life' crime is critical
"They can issue fixed penalty notices and can confiscate alcohol from young people," he said.

"In six pilot areas - including Gwent Police - they can detain a person for 30 minutes".

"These are not realistic powers in the fight against incidents of gross anti-social behaviour."

Mr David said his south Wales constituency was fairly typical and he could quote numerous examples of anti-social behaviour "by a minority of young people".

He gave three specific examples of crimes on an estate in the valleys community of Nelson, including youngsters on bicycles riding on top of old people's bungalows.

"Can you imagine how terrifying that was for those old people?" he asked.

Other problems included excessive fighting and drinking on the streets, and mud and eggs being thrown at property of people fighting anti-social behaviour.

Mr David said a large number of MPs were enthusiastic about the ideas in his bill, which he launched in the Commons on Tuesday.

"I am hopeful that these measures will be put on the government agenda in future," he said.

The government will only rarely allow a 10-minute rule bill to progress far enough to become law, so MPs tend to use the procedure simply as a way of gaining publicity for a particular issue.

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