Antisocial behaviour: MPs warn of “no go” town centres

Towns and city centres are becoming “no go areas” despite the billions of pounds the government has poured into tackling antisocial behaviour, MPs said today.

The Commons public accounts committee said the Home Office had not established what worked best in tackling antisocial behaviour, despite a “barrage” of initiatives over the past decade, including antisocial behaviour orders and the Respect agenda.

The committee examined 893 cases of individuals receiving antisocial behaviour interventions and found that there was a lack of support or attempts to change people’s behaviour.

It called on the Home Office and the Respect Task Force to look at how support for individuals could be improved, including collecting information on gaps in local provision such as drug treatment or mental health services.

“There has been no comparative evaluation of the use and success of the different measures and powers, making it difficult for the Home Office, the Respect Task Force and those dealing with antisocial behaviour to assess what works,” the public accounts committee said.

Local authorities chose antisocial behaviour interventions according to “local preferences” or what they were familiar with rather than “an objective assessment” of what worked with different perpetrators, the committee found.

Edward Leigh MP, chair of the public accounts committee, said: “After dark, our city and town centres are fast becoming no go areas, with behaviour ranging from drunken skylarking and intimidation to out and out criminal activity. No civilised country should have to put up with what can seem like an occupying army loose in the streets. The cost of responding to it is currently running at some £3.4 billion a year.”

Leigh said the Home Office was “notorious” for “producing duff information”, including incorrect data on perceptions of antisocial behaviour, and called for the department to “pull itself together”

The new Department for Children, Schools and Families gained responsibility for the Respect agenda in last month’s government reshuffle.
More information

Tackling antisocial behaviour – public accounts committee report

Anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos): How should they be used?

Portsmouth project is success with antisocial children

How Glasgow Council tackles antisocial behaviour: supportive not punitive

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