Labour pledges town centre patrols and new powers to tackle antisocial behaviour

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Neighbourhood police would patrol town centres with new powers to act against repeat antisocial behaviour offenders if Labour wins power.

The party has set out plans to tackle a “shocking rise” in antisocial behaviour blighting high streets.

Recorded instances of criminal damage to shops, schools, leisure centres and businesses have increased by more than 30% over the past year, Labour analysis found.

Police and courts would be able to take rapid enforcement action under the plans.

Nearly a quarter of criminal damage and arson offenders reoffend, as do more than a third of public order offenders, Labour said, citing the latest figures.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said some town centres have been particularly hard hit with vandalism, street drinking, harassment and abuse that “undermines communities, blights town centres and leaves people feeling unsafe”.

“The Conservatives have turned their backs on communities struggling with antisocial behaviour – cutting neighbourhood police and cutting enforcement action.

“Time and again people report problems but no one comes and nothing is done. Labour won’t stand for that.

“The next Labour government will put neighbourhood police back on the beat and make sure they have proper powers to act against repeat antisocial behaviour offenders. Our action plan will finally give communities the action and support they need.”

There would be a mandatory antisocial behaviour police lead in every local area as part of Labour’s pledge to recruit 13,000 new neighbourhood officers.

The proposals also include a prevention and diversion programme for young people; a national register of private landlords; a new statutory definition of antisocial behaviour and national guidelines on data collection; and a legal duty on Police and Crime Commissioners to create an antisocial behaviour strategy.

Labour has also vowed to introduce “clean-up squads” for fly-tippers and establish community and victim payback boards to oversee strengthened community sentences.

It comes as the party seeks to re-deploy Tony Blair’s famous promise that Labour would be “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”, a phrase the former Labour leader used to great effect ahead of the 1997 election victory.

Ms Cooper used the phrase in a speech on Thursday, telling an audience in London that “it was right then, it is right now, it is what we did then, it is what we will do again”.

A Government source said: “We are already cracking down on antisocial behaviour as one of our crime priorities and will ensure police are using all the powers available to them to tackle the problem.

“Labour keeps rehashing the same pledge to possibly introduce 13,000 police officers which will include hiring staff without any actual powers.

“The Government is hiring 20,000 extra police officers, 17,000 of them already in place, and will have the most police ever in this country by next month.”

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