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Sussex Police commissioner slammed for 'soft approach' on yobs
Sussex’s police commissioner has been criticised for supporting softer punishments for antisocial yobs.
Police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne has said she would like to see antisocial behaviour orders replaced with community punishments that would see offenders spared criminal records.
However, opponents have condemned Mrs Bourne’s “soft” stance and said that hooligans, street drinkers and vandals needed to be tackled “with a big stick”.
Mrs Bourne said: “Asbos don’t work because they’re too complicated and often impossible to enforce. I am determined to address antisocial behaviour, which blights the lives of local people and communities.
“The Government has proposed a new system that gives PCCs a central role in ensuring that victims of low-level crime and antisocial behaviour can have a say in the punishment of the offender.”
Under the new Community Remedy approach PCCs would consult with victims and the public and agree with the Chief Constable a menu of sanctions for low level crime and antisocial behaviour. This would then be used when such crimes were dealt with out of court.
Magistrate and East Sussex county councillor Godfrey Daniel said Mrs Bourne had failed to understand the scale of the problem. He said: “Sometimes you need to wield a big stick.”
'Ignorance of practicalities'
He added: “Asbos have been very useful because offenders don’t get a criminal record unless they breach them.”
“Katy Bourne has demonstrated a total ignorance of the practicalities. She is just taking the Tory line of being soft on crime and soft on the causes of crime.”
The Government’s plans for community remedies would see people who admit low level offences ordered to make amends to their victims. However the system would only work if suspects admit their crimes.
Conditional cautions order people admitting summary only offences to comply with a range of rehabilitative or financially punitive conditions in exchange for being spared a criminal record.
Sussex’s yobs are more likely to breach their asbos than almost anywhere else in the country.
Figures released by the Home Office last October showed that of the 510 asbos issued since their introduction, 256 had been breached at least once.
Barbara Denyer, of Black Dog Walk, Crawley, suffered more than 20 years of antisocial behaviour at the hands of her neighbour Gordon Clarke.
Clarke ignored warnings from police and the council and breached a restraining order before being given an asbo in 2001.
Mrs Denyer said yesterday (March 19): “I would want to see harsher, not softer penalties for people like that.”
Talking point: To what extent do you believe asbos work? Share your views by commenting below or write in to The Argus letters pages firstname.lastname@example.org
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