NORTHUMBRIA Police should challenge the Government reluctance to issue anti-social behaviour orders, the woman looking to take over the force has said.
Former solicitor general Vera Baird has placed herself on collision course with the Home Secretary after seeing what she called an alarming drop in the number of Asbos issued in the North East.
Ms Baird, a former Teesside MP, has said she wants to see the force do more to tackle those whose behaviour makes life a misery for people on some North East estates, including continued use of the banning orders.
Home Secretary Theresa May wants to axe Asbos and replace them with fast-tracked court judgements, dismissing the current arrangements as “gimmicks”. Asbos have been dismissed by some as ineffective. A Sunderland man who was the first in the region to receive an Asbo in 1999 was this month back in court for his 116th conviction, previous court warnings failing to change his ways.
But for many, particularly on troubled estates, the Asbo was a sign that the then New Labour Government was prepared to take the offensive against teenage yobs and unruly neighbours.
In the Northumbria Police force patch, Ms Baird said, the number of Asbos issued has declined from 40 in one year to 10 in the last 12 months.
Ms Baird said the sharp decline was down to “the confusion created by Theresa May’s airy decision to go beyond Asbos without coming up with any alternative in more than two years.”
The would-be police commissioner is one of four candidates looking to take the top job in elections on November 15.
Speaking after meeting residents in Benton, in North Tyneside, Ms Baird said: “This is a microcosm of wider problems on which the Government is letting people down.
“Asbos are not the only tool in the arsenal but they are a useful way of tackling anti-social abuse. Yet the number issued has declined in just one year from 40 to 10 in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.”
Ms Baird’s rivals for the job include former detective Phil Butler standing for the Conservatives as well as Liberal Democrat Peter Andras and Alistair Baxter of the UK Independence Party.