The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) briefed journalists on the Prime Minister’s anti-social behaviour speech this afternoon. He pointed in particular to the announcement about giving more power to town and parish councils – which now covered something like a third of England – to build cleaner, safer neighbourhoods – specifically the power to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for offences like dog-fouling, litter, graffiti and night-time noise. The FPNs would vary in amount, ranging from £30 to £100, depending on the offence. For example, a £50 penalty notice would be issued for dog fouling. The PMOS pointed out that town councillors would not be personally responsible for issuing FPNs. This would be the job of rangers and wardens whom town councils already employed. David Blunkett had also announced today that civil courts would be able to order compulsory drug treatment with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). The purpose of this was to strengthen our drive to break the link between drugs and crime. Put to him that no member of the Lobby had ever seen a parish or town council ranger or warden and were not even aware that they existed, the Times correspondent took the opportunity to inform his colleagues that there were, in fact, wardens in Norfolk where he lived. Responding to the resulting babble of excitement from journalists, the Times correspondent said that he didn’t just go up to Norfolk at weekends to play golf, you know.
Questioned as to whether this new role for wardens and rangers was necessary in the light of the fact that the police and community support officers did the same job, the PMOS pointed out that just as there were different elements of anti-social behaviour, there were also different responses to it at different levels, depending on what the offence was. For example, persistent drunken loutishness outside a pub would require one kind of response, while terrorising a neighbourhood would require another – just as dog-fouling or graffiti would necessitate yet another. It was important not to under-estimate the real difficulties that anti-social behaviour caused communities and the subsequent desire of local communities to take action. People should be very wary about dismissing these problems as minor complaints, because to some people they were not. Put to him that the new responsibilities given to wardens and rangers increased the danger of introducing “army after army to nose into people’s lives”, the PMOS said that he would disagree. If someone was destroying a neighbourhood by spraying graffiti everywhere, for example, no one would consider it nosing into the offender’s life to make sure they stopped doing it. Put to him that this was already the responsibility of police and community support officers, the PMOS said that this wasn’t necessarily the case at a local level.
Asked if parish and town councils had been consulted about the new proposals, the PMOS said that there had been full consultation on these matters with the relevant parties, as you would expect. Asked who would fund the new measures, the PMOS said that these measures were about empowering parish councils to tackle the problem of anti-social behaviour. In any event, parish and town councils already employed rangers and wardens to act on a local level. Asked if rangers and wardens were being asked to take on additional responsibilities, such as issuing FPNs for dog-fouling, because police officers thought they were above such things, the PMOS said that anti-social behaviour, such as dog-fouling, was a real problem which destroyed neighbourhoods. However, we recognised that the police had other priorities. Therefore, it made more sense to give certain powers to wardens and rangers because they were better able to act at a local level.
Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news
Original PMOS briefings are © Crown Copyright. Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland. Click-use licence number C02W0004089. Material is reproduced from the original 10 Downing Street source, but may not be the most up-to-date version of the briefings, which might be revised at the original source. Users should check with the original source in case of revisions. Comments are © Copyright contributors. Everything else is © Copyright Downing Street Says.
Contact Sam Smith.