Parents called to account in offensive against rowdy teenagers and begging

Tough new measures targeting disorderly teenagers, their parents
and the homeless are planned as part of the government’s clampdown
on antisocial behaviour.

The Home Office white paper, Respect and Responsibility,
proposes extending fines for disorderly conduct, making antisocial
behaviour orders (Asbo) work more effectively, introducing
intensive fostering schemes and housing benefit sanctions. It is to
be backed with £75m of funding over three years.

The white paper makes clear that parents will be held accountable
for their children’s actions.

Parents of unruly children face parenting contracts and parenting
orders. They will receive fixed penalty notices if they condone
truancy or if their child’s behaviour would have warranted action
against them had they been older than 16.

The paper suggests intensive support schemes or residential options
to improve parenting skills. Other proposals suggest fostering
offenders while they are on remand and intensive fostering as an
alternative to custody.

Home secretary David Blunkett said: “This white paper isÉ an
acceptance that antisocial behaviour is not acceptable and that
together we will take responsibility to stamp it out whenever we
come across it.”

Fixed penalty notices are to be extended to “disorderly” 16 and 17
year olds, with new measures to make Asbos more effective.

The government wants to make begging a recordable offence and give
courts new powers under the Criminal Justice Bill whereby after
three convictions beggars will face a community penalty.

But Homeless Link, which represents more than 700 agencies working
with homeless people, believes the plans are unworkable “as they do
not address the underlying chaotic nature of the lives of people
who beg”.

“The further criminalisation of vulnerable people will exacerbate
their problems and inhibits work to achieve greater social
inclusion,” said chief executive Elisabeth Pritchard.

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