Lib Dems criticise Antisocial Behaviour Bill

The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson has branded
government proposals for on-the-spot fines for children acting
antisocially as “a nonsense system”, writes
Derren Hayes.

Simon Hughes, who is also the Liberal Democrat candidate for
London mayor, said he was opposed to fixed penalty notices for
young people aged 16 and 17 and powers to extend them to children
as young as 10.

He criticised the government for rolling out the plans before
pilot studies had been completed and their results evaluated, and
said that parents would end up paying the bill when young people
are fined.

Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Local Government Association
annual conference in Harrogate, Hughes outlined Liberal Democrat
plans to take a different approach to antisocial behaviour, crime
and punishment.

He said Labour had introduced 661 new offences in six years and
called for a reduction in the use of the law to punish minor
offences and for a greater focus on rehabilitation services.

“We need to get the message out that it is community
service that is hard and not prison,” he explained.
“They (those undertaking community service) should be seen as
part of the local authority workforce so that we say ‘you
have been naughty girls and boys but you have done this job

He also raised concerns about plans in the Antisocial Behaviour
Bill for cutting housing benefit for those involved in antisocial
behaviour. He called for greater use of acceptable behaviour
contracts, probationary tenancies and good citizen training. He
also welcomed moves by some councils to develope 24-hour antisocial
behaviour hotlines.

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