Blair: Anti-Yob Measures No Gimmick

Council leaders in 40 new “Respect” areas have been warned they no longer have any excuse for failing to take action against yobs. Home Secretary John Reid said the local authorities were expected to make a major push against anti-social behaviour in exchange for additional resources.

Prime Minister Tony Blair denied Tory accusations that the new campaign was a “gimmick”. The areas were selected on the basis of indexes such as deprivation, high levels of anti-social behaviour, truancy and school exclusion levels.

The 40 English local authorities will use a range of programmes to tackle anti-social yobbishness, including: Family Intervention Projects to tackle “neighbours from hell”; more parenting classes for parents struggling with troublesome children; “Face the People” sessions where the police, local authorities and others can be accountable to their local public; and Asbos and other measures designed to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Mr Reid said: “Respect is a national programme and we expect all areas to play their part. We have had many successes but we recognise we have a long way to go to drive this problem from our towns and cities. There are no more excuses for local services not to take action to create stronger, safer communities.”

But shadow minister for police reform Nick Herbert said communities suffering from anti-social behaviour did not want gimmicks – but rather needed police officers on the streets.

“The Government has cut 4,000 promised police community support officers from the forces covering these so-called ‘respect areas’,” said Mr Herbert. Communities don’t want gimmicks like ‘respect handbooks’, they want police officers on their streets to take real action against anti-social behaviour.”

On a visit to one of the 40 areas, Brighton and Hove, Mr Blair responded: “People used to say to me about anti-social law, that it was all a gimmick. I think people now know there is a strong body of law that needs to be developed, but the important thing is that it only works if the interaction in the local community is right.”