Johnson launches anti-social behaviour drive

by staff

A crack down on anti-social behaviour is being launched by the home secretary today, in a bid to reclaim ground on the issue.

There will now be a clear “expectation” of legal action against those who break Asbos (anti-social behaviour orders), with police and local councils being given until March to meet the new standard.

Residents will also be given a right of complaint when problems have not been addressed by the authorities.

The initiative is designed to deal with the fact that half of all Asbos are currently breached.

But the Liberal Democrats wrote off the Asbo programme as a “gimmick”.

“Despite the spin the government has clearly failed to tackle anti-social behaviour,” said Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne.

“Asbos are just an ineffective gimmick – they are constantly breached and in many areas they are seen as a badge of honour.”

The new commitment to tackling anti-social behaviour was voiced by Mr Johnson at the start of his stint as home secretary, when he admitted to journalists that the issue had fallen by the wayside.

But demands for greater action became a political imperative in the aftermath of the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter.

The two committed suicide after years of harassment from local youths in Leicester. Police had received complaints about the situation but failed to act.

Mr Johnson had strong words for the idea that low-level anti-social behaviour was the responsibility of local councils, not police officers.

“It is ludicrous and ridiculous,” he said.

“It’s just totally inexplicable how a police officer could feel like that, but it suggests there is a mindset there.”

Mr Brown made anti-social behaviour the backbone of his keynote speech to the Labour party conference in Brighton two weeks ago.

In it, he said parents on benefits between the age of 16- and 17-years-old will be put in shared, supervised housing where they will “learn responsibility and how to raise their children properly”.

The suggestion prompted bemusement and anger from civil liberties groups, and was treated with caution by child welfare advocates.