Martin Ford 27 March 2023

Councils to get more powers over anti-social behaviour

Councils to get more powers over anti-social behaviour image
Image: richardjohnson/Shutterstock.com.

Councils will be handed extra powers alongside increased accountability for tackling anti-social behaviour.

The Government announced today it will bolster powers around begging, derelict buildings and patrols.

This will be coupled with council league tables for fly-tipping, with the Office for Local Government (Oflog) tasked with improving ‘accountability on anti-social behaviour outcomes’.

The Vagrancy Act will be replaced with an offence for organising begging networks while police and councils will have powers to ‘direct people towards the support they need’ including accommodation, mental health or substance misuse services.

Ministers will also give councils new powers to ‘quickly take control and sell off’ empty buildings.

Funding is to be provided in ‘trailblazer’ areas to increase patrols by police and other uniformed officers such as wardens in anti-social behaviour ‘hotspots’.

An anti-social behaviour taskforce bringing together national and local partners will be led by the home secretary and communities secretary.

Furthermore, a new tool will also be developed over the next year for reporting anti-social behaviour and receiving updates on what action is being taken by police and councils.

The announcement included a £5m fund to repair and improve parks and green spaces, and an additional one million hours of youth services.

Communities secretary Michael Gove said: ‘We will intervene directly to prevent high street dereliction.

‘We will deliver tougher, quicker and more visible justice to prevent thuggish behaviour in town centres, and we will ensure young people have the opportunities and activities available to them to succeed - all backed by new investment.’

Fiona Colley, director of Social Change at Homeless Link, comments: 'Homelessness is not a crime. When the Government committed to repealing the Vagrancy Act it was done with an understanding that people sleeping on our streets need to be supported not criminalised. Therefore, we are extremely disappointed to see that this new plan will result in further criminalisation of vulnerable people, rather than offering the constructive solutions that work in helping people off the streets for good.

'The measures proposed, including enforcement or risk of removal of belongings, will create distrust, pushing people away from the services and support they need. It could be a young person who’s recently left the care system, a woman who has fled an abusive partner or someone who couldn’t keep up with rising rents. Regardless, this plan is a backwards step undermining the Government's own commitment to ending rough sleeping in this parliament.'

This article was originally published by The MJ (£).

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