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Anti-social behaviour: Police 'will be forced to act'

  • 30 January 2012
  • From the section UK
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Police will be forced to deal with anti-social behaviour if five households in one area complain about another resident, the government says.

Home Secretary Theresa May said a "community trigger" would prevent "horror stories of victims reporting the same problem over and over again".

But Labour dismissed the proposals, which will apply to England and Wales, as "belated and weak".

In a speech, Mrs May also promised police pay would reflect skill levels.

The announcement on anti-social behaviour follows an outcry over a mother who killed herself and her disabled daughter following repeated harassment by youngsters.

Fiona Pilkington had complained to police at least 33 times about the treatment she and 18-year-old Francecca Hardwick had received, including having their house pelted with stones and eggs.

The Independent Police Complaints Authority found that officers had failed to take "robust action".

'Helplessness'

The government is promising to set up five pilot schemes this summer, which will force the authorities to act if people in five separate households complain about a neighbour causing problems, such as noise or threatening behaviour.

In a speech in central London, Mrs May said: "Many police forces, councils and housing providers are working hard, but I still hear horror stories of victims reporting the same problem over and over again, and getting no response.

"These long-running problems - and the sense of helplessness that goes with them - can destroy a victim's quality of life and shatter a community's trust in the police.

"That's why we proposed a 'community trigger' as part of our reforms to anti-social behaviour laws."

Mrs May pointed out that the government was already working with a number of local authorities to test the "community trigger" in practice, ahead of the launch of the summer pilot schemes.

But Shadow Home Office minister Gloria DePiero criticised the plans.

"This is a belated and weak announcement from the home secretary which shows how out of touch she is with the anti-social behaviour problems many communities face," she said.

"After two years of doing nothing to tackle anti-social behaviour, the home secretary has to do better than a few pilots that won't start until the summer, and which seem to suggest that anti-social behaviour should not be taken seriously if only two or three people complain."

Mrs May also announced long-awaited changes to the pay and allowances of 130,000 police officers, saying it would "remain a well-paid job".

The deal would save about £150m a year but there would be no reduction in basic pay. But any extra payments would be focused on specialist staff and front-line officers, Mrs May said.

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