War on anti-social behaviour - Conservative policies

20 Apr 2009 by Karl Hallam

In a recent speech by Chris Grayling, Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, he said that 'Changing what we have called the broken society will be a long and difficult process. But one step we can take quickly is to go to war on antisocial behaviour'. Although David Cameron never said that hugging hoodies was Conservative policy, this appears to mark a move away from the sentiment he appeared to be expressing at the time. It comes at an interesting time when the DCSF, under Ed Balls, has increasingly moved away from the Respect agenda that Tony Blair championed when he was Prime Minister.

Grayling laid out in the speech what he called 'five central principles that underpin our approach to tackling the blight of antisocial behaviour'. Encouragingly the 5th was 'ensuring effective youth engagement in Britain today, but some in the sector have expressed some diappointment in how little emphasis he gave this area. It will be interesting to see how they follow up in this area.

Below are the 5 principles in full, as delivered:

'The first of these is very straightforward.

There have to be consequences for every act of antisocial behaviour.

If a young troublemaker just gets away with it, he or she will have little reason not to offend and reoffend.

The second is that we must set very clear expectations for parents. I don't think it's good enough to simply say that parenting is very difficult, that some kids are hard to control, and so we will be tolerant of those parents who don't restrain their children.

I think that is a cop out.

Understanding and help yes. But allowing them to abdicate responsibility - definitely not.

The third is that we need to teach children the difference between right and wrong very early in their lives. That has to mean a much tougher approach to bad behaviour in our schools.

The fourth is that we must enforce responsible behaviour towards young people in our society.

I think that adults who wilfully supply young people with excessive amounts of alcohol should be prosecuted and dealt with effectively by the law.

I think that off-licenses that systematically ignore the rules and sell alcohol to minors should be closed down.

And I think that adults who sell drugs to children should face long prison sentences.

But we also have to realise that life is about carrots as well as sticks.

That's why the fifth principle must be about ensuring effective youth engagement in Britain today.

There is some excellent work being done by local voluntary sector groups around the country. Friday night football. Boxing clubs for young people. The work of street pastors dealing with potential youth frustrations and flashpoints. The work of our scout and guide movements.

And Government should do everything it can to support the voluntary sector groups that do deliver that process of engagement'.

This speech suggests a big role for the VCF sector in this area.






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