'Respect areas' to lead fight against yobs

40 local authorities chosen as 'respect areas'
40 local authorities chosen as 'respect areas'

The government has today named 40 local authorities that are expected to go "further and faster" in tackling anti-social behaviour in their communities.

Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Plymouth are among the new "respect areas" chosen to lead the government's efforts against noisy neighbours, young hooligans and other anti-social behaviour.

Building on past successes, they have agreed to use the full force of measures available to them, including anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos), parenting orders and new powers to evict troublesome tenants.

In return, the government is making an extra £6 million available for parenting classes across the 40 areas from April.

"We have seen real progress with communities across the country making full use of the powers we have put in place with councils, police, courts and local people working in partnership to make neighbourhoods safer and better places to live," Tony Blair said.

"We want to extend this good practice across the country and encourage those championing the fight against anti-social behaviour to build on their good work. That's the aim of the respect areas which are to encouraging them to go further and faster."

The 40 areas will also be required to organise sessions where local authority members and police are required to explain their actions - or lack of - to the community.

Home secretary John Reid said: "The new respect areas will take public accountability one step further, with regular statutory 'face the people' sessions where they will be scrutinised by their local community for the work they have done and have yet to do.

"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."

However, the Conservatives said today's initiative, which includes the launch of a new handbook setting out the measures available to local authorities in tackling anti-social behaviour, were no substitute for putting more police officers on patrol.

"Communities don't want gimmicks like 'respect handbooks' - they want police officers
on their streets to take real action against antisocial behaviour," said shadow police minister Nick Herbert.

The government has today published new statistics showing the progress of its 'respect' agenda over the past year, but Mr Herbert said they were meaningless unless there was proper evaluation of how effective new measures were.

The figures reveal more than 4,000 Asbos were issued in the last year, up from 3,500 the previous year, but only 42 individual support orders, which are supposed to be used alongside punitive measures to tackle the underlying reasons for anti-social behaviour.

About 7,500 anti-social behaviour contracts, which are agreements between individuals, councils, police and youth offender teams, were also drawn up, in addition to almost 500 parenting orders and 2,268 parenting contracts.


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