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
    reformers.

    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.

    – From www.homeoffice.gov.uk

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