24/06/2003

Awards launched for tackling yob culture

The government has launched a new awards system to recognise members of the public who have made a difference in tackling anti-social behaviour in their communities.

The Taking a Stand awards have been developed by the Home Office in partnership with the Co-op Group, National Neighbourhood Watch Association (NNWA) and Crime Concern.

The scheme will be targeted at special individuals and local groups who have taken action against anti-social behaviour – such as, giving evidence in anti-social behaviour proceedings or by organising graffiti clean up on an estate.

Up to 30 awards will be made across England and Wales, and will be worth £1000 each with a £5000 jackpot for the overall winner.

The Taking a Stand awards were unveiled today as the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill was given its third reading in the House of Commons.

Home Secretary David Blunkett said: "Anti-social behaviour cannot be tackled by one government department or one agency alone, everyone has a role to play. That means that people must be prepared to stand up to the yobs and report crimes to police and parents must teach their children right from wrong.

"The Taking a Stand awards will recognise the contributions and bravery of people and organisations who have said enough is enough and have stood up to the thugs and vandals who are the scourge of our communities."

Speaking ahead of this afternoon's reading, Mr Blunkett set out the new powers being brought in to counter noisy neighbours, vandals and thugs.

Mr Blunkett said: "People expect to live in communities free from fear. They are right to expect local agencies to do everything they can to protect them. Local authorities and the police need to use the powers they have to make sure areas bedeviled by anti-social behaviour are returned to the decent law abiding majority.

"The government will play its part. We have already delivered record numbers of police officers to our streets, backed by Community Support Officers. We have set out a radical new agenda to tackle anti-social behaviour."

The Bill includes powers to close down crack houses, to widen the use of Fixed Penalty Notices to tackle noise nuisance, truancy and graffiti, restrict the use of air weapons and powers to shut down establishments that create noise nuisance.

Several amendments to the Bill include: proposals to make residential parenting courses part of parenting orders; powers for local authorities to issue graffiti removal notices to owners of street furniture; increased powers for police to remove unauthorised encampments; and amending the offence of aggravated trespass to cover disorder and protests in buildings as well as the open air.

(GMcG)

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