Leeds City Council reports that an Asbo has been given to a 14 year old girl in Wetherby to try to curb her drunken, threatening and violent behaviour. Earlier interventions had failed to control Catherine Emery’s behaviour. The Asbo will put strict controls on her for a two year period.
Asbos are an effective tool to use in the fight against anti social behaviour and have been one of the Labour government’s success stories, though there can always be further improvements. Asbos can be a necessary measure to protect others in the community from the individual’s behaviour and to highlight the seriousness of the situation. I have spoken at Labour Party conference on the issue of anti-social behaviour and know from my casework on behalf of others as a councillor in Garforth and Swillington and candidate in Rothwell just what a nightmare anti social behaviour can be and how it makes peoples lives a misery. The Garforth skate park, a project initiated after I met with local young people has been having problems with vandalism. Swillington residents have seen some hairy scenes recently as the Tesco Express has been targeted by vandals throwing objects at the windows which had to be boarded up. I know as a former resident and councillor that Swillington residents take great pride in their village, and many are tireless in their efforts to keep Swillington an attractive village community.
For the very real problems that anti social behaviour creates for our communities and the suffering to our people, the process of obtaining Asbos can be long – in some cases it can take two years.
I know from talking to Home Secretary Alan Johnson that anti social behaviour is an issue close to his heart also, and that’s why he recently called for a reinvigoration of Asbos as a weapon in the fight against extreme cases of intimidation and harassment. He said courts must be able to issue Asbos quicker to make it easier for problems to be reported and to provide more counselling for victims.
Although we are still tackling anti social behaviour in our communities, it’s comforting to know that since 1997 overall crime is down 39 per cent (over 5 million fewer crimes); domestic burglary is down 55 per cent; vehicle related crime is down 57 per cent and violent crime is down 40 per cent.
It’s good to remember the numerous achievements of the Labour government in the last twelve years of which these figures are just one example.