UK Politics

Anti-social behaviour victims 'to pick punishments'

Generic picture of hooded youths
Image caption The Home Office says the reforms will "put the public in the driving seat"

Victims of anti-social behaviour will be able to choose the punishment for offenders under government plans.

They will be given the right to choose from a list of out-of-court penalties handed down to tackle low-level crime.

The draft Anti-Social Behaviour Bill will also allow people to demand meetings with the police if their complaints are not dealt with properly.

Commons Leader Andrew Lansley said the plans, which are being consulted on, would "put victims first".

He told MPs: "Measures include a new community trigger which will empower victims and communities to demand that local agencies deal with persistent problems where they have failed to do so.

"It will also speed up the eviction of anti-social tenants by introducing a faster route for the most serious criminal or anti-social behaviour."

The reforms are designed to replace Labour's so-called Asbos which critics say have become a badge of honour for some offenders.

The "community trigger" is designed to prevent victims like Fiona Pilkington suffering sustained abuse while the authorities fail to crackdown on the culprits.

Ms Pilkington killed herself and her disabled daughter in 2007 after suffering a decade of abuse from local gangs.

'Made to pay'

Mr Lansley said the Home Affairs select committee would scrutinise the draft legislation before making its recommendations in February next year.

The Home Office is asking members of the public and frontline professionals to give their views on the community remedy before the laws become finalised.

Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said victims wanted a greater say in how nuisance behaviour and offenders are dealt with.

"Victims can benefit enormously from knowing the offender is being made to pay for what they've done," he said.

He welcomed the community remedy measure which "goes one step further by offering a range of options for the victim to choose from".

A recent survey suggested that more than a third of adults - 36% - would be interested in attending free classes with police officers and volunteers to learn about combating anti-social behaviour and how to avoid danger when walking home alone.

The YouGov poll, paid for by think-tank Policy Exchange, surveyed 1,784 people in England, Wales and Scotland.