Dame Baird: Priti Patel is in denial over rising anti-social behaviour

Victims commissioner Dame Vera Baird accuses the Home Office of being in denial over rising anti-social behaviour problems and claim it is ‘sleep-walking to disaster’

  • Dame Vera Baird accused Priti Patel after she failed to offer extra funding to tackle anti-social behaviour or to acknowledge the surge in cases 
  • She also warned that a further six months of coronavirus measures could see problem behaviour rise and victims be left to fend for themselves 
  • The Mail on Sunday reported last month how some areas are experiencing rises of up to 140 per cent in the number of reports of anti-social behaviour
  • Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘The Government is committed to tackling anti-social behaviour and recognises the devastating impact it can have on victims’ 

The Victims Commissioner has accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of being in denial over the rising problem of anti-social behaviour in communities.

Dame Vera Baird QC has issued a hard-hitting rebuke to the Home Secretary after she failed to offer extra funding to tackle the issue or acknowledge the surge in cases such as rowdy neighbours and drinking in the street.

And she has warned that another six months of covid-19 restrictions could see the problem worsen while victims are left to fend for themselves.

It comes after The Mail on Sunday reported last month how some areas are experiencing rises of up to 140 per cent in the number of reports of anti-social behaviour.

Undated handout file photo issued by Northumbria PCC of Dame Vera Baird QC. Dame Baird has accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of being in denial over the rising problem of anti-social behaviour in communities

Local authorities and charities have recorded a surge in cases since the easing of lockdown which is attributed in large part to people spending more time at home.

Dame Vera had appealed to Ms Patel to get a handle on the problem by setting up ‘Nightingale Taskforces’ to clear the backlog of cases and support victims.

Instead the Home Secretary wrote that cases of anti-social behaviour were falling based on older March figures and said any rise during lockdown was ‘often’ related to concerns over breaches of covid-19 regulations.

But the victims’ tsar has hit back to say that she is ‘dismayed’ by Ms Patel’s response and that it suggests her department does not ‘understand the problem’.

‘Persistent anti-social behaviour causes untold misery, stress and despair at the best of times, but we must understand that the impact is so much greater under lockdown conditions’, she said.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘The Government is committed to tackling anti-social behaviour and recognises the devastating impact it can have on victims’

‘ASB can have a corrosive effect on public morale and community cohesion at a time when it is so important that we all come together.

‘This is why I am so dismayed by the Home Secretary’s response.

‘There is no recognition of the problem and the fact that with another six months of social restrictions, it is only going to get worse.

‘I fear that unless it acts, the government is sleep-walking to disaster, with anti-social behaviour being allowed to escalate and the victims being left to fend for themselves.’

Last week police revealed they had recorded a 12 per cent increase in complaints unconnected with covid-19 regulations though Dame Vera said this is likely an understatement.

The charity Victim Support, which provides frontline services for victims in more than 30 areas of England and Wales, has seen a 27 per cent increase in those suffering from anti-social behaviour accessing their services since March.

And in August they reported a 161 per cent increase in ‘hits’ about anti-social behaviour on their website.

In London police reportedly logged a rise of 56 per cent in cases referred by members of the public in August.

While in the North-East one local authority stopped accepting new cases due to the huge backlog which had built up during lockdown.

It comes after The Mail on Sunday reported last month how some areas are experiencing rises of up to 140 per cent in the number of reports of anti-social behaviour (file photo)

Dame Vera also called on the Home Secretary not to ‘simply ignore’ Baroness Helen Newlove’s 2019 report, Living a Nightmare, which has only seen one of 12 recommendations enacted by the government.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘The Government is committed to tackling anti-social behaviour and recognises the devastating impact it can have on victims.

‘We have given the police, local authorities and other agencies a range of powers to quickly and effectively respond to anti-social behaviour and continue to keep them under review.

‘We are carefully considering the Victims Commissioner’s recommendations. Over half of them are covered by the legislation or the statutory guidance on the Community Trigger, which is an important safety net in ensuring that the voices of victims of persistent anti-social behaviour are heard.’

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