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Antisocial Behaviour

Oral Answers to Questions — Solicitor-General – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 18th March 2004.

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Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point 11:30 am, 18th March 2004

What is the policy of the Crown Prosecution Service on the prosecution of antisocial behaviour.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Solicitor General (Law Officers), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The Crown Prosecution Service is committed to playing its part in reducing antisocial behaviour by taking action in the courts. It works with other agencies to ensure that the law can be used to reduce antisocial behaviour, and recently appointed 12 antisocial behaviour prosecutors in the areas where such behaviour is most prevalent and of major concern to the community.

Photo of Bob Spink Bob Spink Conservative, Castle Point

I thank the right hon. and learned Lady for that answer. I praise the Crown Prosecution Service for its excellent work, which is often misperceived by the public. Nevertheless, public pressure is building as regards antisocial behaviour. In my constituency, there is a serious threat of vigilante action. Does she agree that we need tough, exemplary prosecutions against antisocial behaviour to enable us to take back control of our streets from these thugs?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Solicitor General (Law Officers), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

It is important that people have confidence that the police will act, that prosecutions will go ahead, and that the courts will act in such a way as to deter antisocial behaviour. The active involvement of the criminal justice system in this area is a relatively new development, and we certainly need to make it clearer to people that progress is being made. Too often, they think that the criminal justice system will not get involved and that they just have to put up with it, but that is no longer the case.

Photo of Mrs Anne Campbell Mrs Anne Campbell Labour, Cambridge

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that recent antisocial behaviour measures such as antisocial behaviour orders and demoted tenancies, which act as a threat to the person who has committed the offences, are far more effective than some of the older legislation whereby prosecutions were necessary before any action could be taken?

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Solicitor General (Law Officers), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The legislation that the House has recently passed, which has been put into effect by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, is important in warning people—mostly young people—and deterring them from some of the activities in which they get involved. However, I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that we must also focus on the causes of antisocial behaviour, rather than simply seeking to stop it after it has happened. That involves such issues as drunkenness, lack of facilities for young people, street lighting and regenerating estates. I try to avoid sloganising in Solicitor-General's questions, but this issue really is about being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.