The Home Office White
Paper published this week proposes a radical overhaul of the
powers available to tackle anti-social behaviour, cutting the
toolkit from a current 19 tools to just 6, including replacing
ASBOs with a new Crime Prevention Injunction.
Current arrangements have grown up piecemeal since the first
introduction of ASBOs in the 1990s and they are complex, in parts
bureaucratic and not entirely fit for purpose.
Simplification is welcome, provided the new toolkit enables
police, councils and other social landlords to deal speedily and
effectively with the full range of anti-social behaviours, and do
so reasonably cheaply in these straitened times.
The White Paper emphasises the variety of nuisances, crimes and
disorder falling under the label of anti-social behaviour, and
rightly concludes that it is a mistake to think they are
susceptible to a one-size-fits-all response designed from the
The key to success is to empower local agencies to respond
flexibly and effectively. Providing this flexibility while
simplifying the available toolkit is a challenge.
Key changes include a new civil injunction that agencies can use
quickly to protect victims and communities subject to a less
demanding burden of proof than current ASB injunctions, and a new
ground for possession that would give a faster route to eviction
for the most serious criminal or anti-social behaviour.
Some have expressed concern that current powers should not
be scrapped until it is clear that the new ones provide effective
replacements. This is a fair point.
However eloquent the White Paper is in setting out the
Government's intentions, much still depends on the detailed
drafting of the necessary legislation and, equally importantly, how
it is interpreted in practice by the courts.
We can welcome this declaration of intent from the Government, but
there is still some way to go before practitioners can be confident
that the tools for the job are to hand.
Please post your comments below, or email email@example.com.