Public order drive condemned as a drain on crime prevention schemes

The government’s focus on antisocial behaviour in its
five-year law and order strategy has caused alarm among penal

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,
focuses on tackling antisocial behaviour, and includes plans for
extending Asbos.

A new Safer and Stronger Communities Fund, worth £660m over
three years, will bring together several existing funding streams
to tackle problems of antisocial behaviour and crime.

The strategy also outlines plans to focus on 50 action areas to
develop the Together campaign, which aims to tackle antisocial
behaviour. Persistent perpetrators will be targeted and local
people will be informed of the steps taken.

The Home Office wants police, probation, youth offending teams
and their partners to identify the main offenders in their local
area. A neighbourhood policing fund, with £50m of new money,
will help recruit 20,000 community support officers over the next
three years.

The ability of police and councils to impose fixed penalty
notices is to be extended and antisocial

behaviour response courts, which engage local communities, will
be rolled out.

Problem drug users will be diverted into treatment when they
come into contact with the police. Offenders who refuse treatment
will not be granted bail. It is hoped that about 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 will be expanded by half.

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