British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday launched a new Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan to crack down on illegal activities within communities by handing additional powers to the police to punish drug-related offences and criminal gang activity.
Under the new Immediate Justice scheme, those found committing anti-social behaviour will be made to repair the damage they inflicted on victims and communities, with an ambition for them to start work as soon as 48 hours after their offence.
Offenders, who will be made to wear high-visibility vests or jumpsuits and work under supervision, could be made to pick up litter, remove graffiti and wash police cars as punishment for their actions.
Victims of anti-social behaviour from the local community will be given a say in offenders’ punishments to ensure justice is “visible and fits the crime”.
“Anti-social behaviour undermines the basic right of people to feel safe in the place they call home,” said Sunak.
“The public have rightly had enough – which is why I am determined to restore people’s confidence that those responsible will be quickly and visibly punished. This action plan maps out how we will tackle this issue with the urgency it deserves and stamp out these crimes once and for all – so that wherever you live, you can feel safe in, and proud of your community,” he said.
Under the plan’s “zero-tolerance approach”, Nitrous Oxide or “laughing gas” will also be banned to send a message to intimidating gangs that hang around high streets and children’s parks and litter them with empty canisters.
The drug is now reported as the third most used among 16 to 24-year-olds in England and both the police and public have repeatedly reported links between use of this drug and nuisance or anti-social behaviour.
“The British public are fed up with crime and nuisance behaviour in their neighbourhoods inflicting misery on people,” said UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
“There is no such thing as petty crime – not only does antisocial behaviour leave people feeling unsafe, it can also be a gateway into serious criminality. It has always been my priority to give police the powers they need to deliver a common-sense approach to cutting crime, which puts the law-abiding majority first, and that’s what this action plan delivers,” she said.
UK police will also be given new powers to crackdown on illegal drug use, often a catalyst for other crimes, including expanding powers for drug testing on arrest so more suspected criminals can be tested and more drugs tested for, including ecstasy and methamphetamine.
Currently, only suspected criminals who have committed certain offences can be tested in police detention without additional requirements.
A new reporting tool will also be developed over the next 12 months to act as a digital one-stop shop where people can quickly and easily report incidents of anti-social behaviour when these occur.
“Anti-social behaviour erodes local pride, blights our high streets and parks and is a stain on too many communities across the country. We know that it is more likely to flourish in areas that have, for too long, been overlooked and undervalued,” said Michael Gove, UK Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
“So 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. This is about acting on the people’s priorities, delivering safer streets so we can level up across the country,” he said.
Among the measures under the Action Plan, the punishment for those who graffiti, litter or fly-tip trash will be hit with increased fines of up to GBP 1,000.
Landlords and housing associations will have more powers to evict unruly tenants who ruin their neighbours’ lives through persistent noise or by being drunk and disorderly.
An anti-social behaviour taskforce is also planned to bring together national and local partners, with the sole focus of addressing anti-social behaviour.