Home Office publishes five-year plan

    The Home Office’s focus on antisocial behaviour in its
    five-year strategy has caused alarm among penal reformers,
    writes Clare Jerrom.

    Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, warned that
    sweeping so-called ‘yobs’ off the streets and into
    overcrowded prisons was no way to build a safer society.

    She added that Antisocial Behaviour Orders had already diverted
    scarce resources from effective youth crime prevention schemes and
    increased the children’s prison population by 11 per cent
    since January.

    Yet the strategy, published by the Home Office this week, has a
    strong focus on tackling antisocial behaviour, and includes plans
    for extending ASBOs.

    A new Safer and Stronger Communities Fund, worth £660m over
    three years, has been announced and will be used to tackle problems
    of antisocial behaviour and crime, bringing together a number of
    existing funding streams and .

    The strategy also outlines the department’s plans to focus
    on 50 ‘action areas’ to further develop the existing
    TOGETHER campaign, which aims to tackle antisocial behaviour.
    Persistent perpetrators will be targeted and local people will be
    informed of the steps taken by local agencies.

    The Home Office wants police, probation, youth offending teams
    and their partners to identify the main offenders in their local
    area. A new Neighbourhood Policing Fund, with £50m of new
    money, will also help the Home Office recruit 20,000 additional
    Community Support officers over the next three years, who will
    patrol communities and tackle antisocial behaviour.

    The ability of police and councils to impose Fixed Penalty
    Notices is to be extended and antisocial behaviour response courts,
    which engage local communities, are to be rolled-out.

    In addition, problem drug users will be diverted into treatment
    as soon as they come into contact with the police, and offenders
    who refuse treatment will not be granted bail. It is hoped around
    1,000 drug-using criminals will be diverted into treatment each
    week by 2008.

    The capacity for electronically tagging offenders will be
    doubled and Youth Inclusion Programmes and Youth Inclusion and
    Support Panels, which target young people at risk of offending with
    support, will be expanded by 50 per cent.

    From http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs3/strategicplan.pdf

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