Birkenhead 'becoming like Beirut', says MP Frank Field

Birkenhead MP Frank Field
Image caption Birkenhead MP Frank Field

Birkenhead is becoming "like Beirut" in terms of anti-social behaviour, the town's MP, Frank Field, has said.

The 72-year-old Labour MP has claimed police are failing to counter "yob culture".

Mr Field said tackling anti-social behaviour is his top priority and that he is determined to confront the organisations he believes are to blame.

Merseyside Police in Wirral insist they take the issue seriously and urged people to report anti-social behaviour.

More than 8,000 incidents were reported between April 1 and September 18, a council report shows but the actual number is estimated to be higher.

Mr Field said: "I've never been so sick with worry as I am now in that, all the different agencies which have budgets to counter anti-social behaviour and worse - because there's lots of criminal activity behind that phrase - seem unable to rise to the occasion."

Image copyright Nigel Cox
Image caption Parts of Birkenhead have been called a 'Beirut of the north'

And he questioned whether his constituents should continue to report incidents of anti-social behaviour.

He said, despite repeated complaints to police and the council, many residents felt their concerns had not been dealt with adequately.

Area commander for Wirral, Chief Superintendent John Martin, said he recognised that for some families and communities, anti-social behaviour is a real and "longstanding problem".

But he insisted Merseyside Police is working to deal with the problem adding that other agencies, such as housing associations, are often better placed to deal with complaints of anti-social behaviour.

George Davies, responsible for housing at Wirral Council, said the authority is looking to use new powers "to enable victims and communities to feel safe in their own homes and neighbourhoods."

No funding

Mr Field suggested that funding to tackle anti-social behaviour set aside by the police, the local authority, housing associations and the fire authority should be brought together.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Beirut became a by-word for urban decay after damage it sustained in the Lebanese Civil War in the 1970s and 80s

This would improve the situation for constituents, he said, suggesting police would have to "drive" any initiative.

Magenta Living, which owns 12,200 social housing properties in Wirral, said they receive no funding to tackle anti-social behaviour and use their rent income to pay for a tenancy enforcement team to deal with the issue.

The MP's comments come less than two weeks after the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 came into effect, which the government claims will give police, local councils and other agencies more effective powers.

In October, street drinking was been banned across all of Birkenhead in an effort to prevent anti-social behaviour.

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