Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Anti-social behaviour response call

Keith Vaz has said no one should have to complain about anti-social behaviour more than five times before they see action

Anti-social behaviour victims should not have to complain to authorities more than five times to guarantee a response, a group of influential MPs has said.

The measure would act as a backstop to Government plans for a so-called "community trigger" - a new tool that gives victims the right to demand that agencies take action.

Such a move would help stop cases such as the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter from happening again, said the Home Affairs Select Committee.

In its review of the Government's draft anti-social behaviour bill, the committee said agencies should be named and held to account when they fail to act.

Labour called the effectiveness of the community trigger into doubt after releasing figures on the scheme's pilot, while campaigners expressed disappointment that the report did not oppose the naming and shaming of teenagers.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said the cases of Ms Pilkington and Dr Suzanne Dow, who took their own lives after months of torment from locals, were "a wake-up call".

He said: "Anti-social behaviour is not something trivial that can be ignored - it can crush lives and breed criminality in our communities. The community trigger is meant to be the last line of defence to protect the public from anti-social behaviour. No one should have to complain more than five times before they see action."

Mr Vaz said the committee welcomed the Government's work to speed up action against anti-social behaviour but a "powerful trigger" was needed to tackle persistent abuse.

Around 2.4 million incidents of anti-social behaviour were recorded by the police in England and Wales for the year to September. Some 57% of Asbos were breached at least once since 2000, while 43% were breached more than once.

The Government published its draft bill in December with a focus on putting victims in the "driving seat", giving them the power to select a punishment agreed with their local Police and Crime Commissioner for offences where a prison term is not applicable.

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