AND so to the Older People’s Parliament. I had agreed to speak on anti-social behaviour. I had no idea just how engaged the Parliament would be with this topic.
I have looked at Labour’s strategy to counter anti-social behaviour and lobbied against the form it took.
I believe modelling it on the criminal justice system was a mistake.
The aim of the policy must be to prevent anti-social behaviour, not create criminals.
The Government is undertaking a review because the number of Asbos is falling and the number of people breaking them is growing.
The idea I have put to the review is to put communities, not officials, in the driving seat.
There is already a statute allowing neighbours affronted by anti-social behaviour to go into court to ask for a warrant to be issued against offenders.
But because the Bench will rule this is a private action, the warrant is not enforced by the police.
The simple reform I proposed to the Government was to give magistrates the discretionary power to rule neighbours before the Bench do represent a public and not just a private interest.
Once it is a public interest, the magistrates can instruct the police to enforce the warrants and bring the culprits into court that day.
Neighbourhood watch schemes would be an ideal body through which to pilot this reform.
That was the suggestion made by the Older People’s Parliament and it is one which I have put to Lord Henley, the Home Office minister undertaking the review on anti-social behaviour.