ASBOs (North Yorkshire)

Oral Answers to Questions — Solicitor-General – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 24th March 2005.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am most grateful for that answer. Can the Solicitor-General confirm that those who breach an antisocial behaviour order in North Yorkshire are brought to court? If that does not happen, there is no merit in issuing an antisocial behaviour order in the first instance.

I thank the Solicitor-General for responding to my Adjournment debate last week, but when does she plan to write to me about the outstanding questions that we did not have time to discuss during that debate?

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

I shall write to the hon. Lady very shortly about the outstanding issues from last week's debate; in fact, I shall try to do so before the House rises for the Easter recess. She is absolutely right: it is important not only that antisocial behaviour orders are made in appropriate cases, but that they are enforced. If people think that no action will follow when such an order is breached, there will simply be no currency or value in it. It is important that breaches should be reported to the local authorities and the police, who should work together, as they do in North Yorkshire, to ensure that such orders are made in appropriate cases and that they are taken seriously.

Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North

Does my right hon. and learned Friend believe that antisocial behaviour orders should be used only as a method of last resort and that the staged approach used in south Wales of first sending a letter to parents or issuing young people with a football-style warning card has been very successful and has meant that fewer antisocial behaviour orders are issued? Is she aware that the Welsh Affairs Committee has strongly endorsed that approach?

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

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Obviously, the first and most important thing is to ensure that there is no antisocial behaviour. If such behaviour can be dealt with other than by the courts, that is preferable—certainly in the case of young people, whom we want to divert from the court process while making sure that they do not carry on committing antisocial behaviour. However, if they do not accede to those warnings, it is important that they and everyone else in the system should understand that court action is there to back up the law against antisocial behaviour.