Brown vows action after mother and daughter deaths
LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown vowed on Tuesday to get tough on anti-social behaviour after ministers said there was no excuse for failings that led to the deaths of a mother and daughter who had suffered years of abuse.
Brown announced plans for action squads to target problem estates in the run-up to Christmas while parents will face action if their children breach an ASBO.
The pledges come amid outrage about the case of Fiona Pilkington, 38, who killed herself and her severely disabled 18-year-old daughter after they were hounded on their Leicestershire estate for a decade, despite appeals to police and the local council.
Pilkington had driven her daughter Francecca, who had a mental age of 3, to a lay-by near their home in Barwell, doused clothes in the back of the car with petrol and set it alight.
"The decent hard-working majority feel the odds are stacked in favour of a minority who will talk about their rights but never accept their responsibilities," Brown told the Labour Party conference in Brighton.
"I stand with the people who are sick and tired of others playing by different rules or no rules at all. Most mums and dads do a great job but there are those who let their kids run riot and I'm not prepared to accept it as simply part of life."
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is to investigate the Pilkington case and Home Secretary Alan Johnson said it had exposed the insufficient response to public anxiety that still existed in some parts of the country.
"It's an exceptional case but it's one that should never have happened and there must be no excuses, no complacency," Johnson told the conference.
Brown said between now and Christmas, there would be "direct and intensive" neighbourhood policing to target anti-social behaviour with "action squads" sent to problem estates, and monthly meetings to highlight priorities.
Every time a young person breached an ASBO, there would be a new order against them, and their parents as well.
"If that is broken, they will pay the price," Brown said. "Whenever and wherever there is antisocial behaviour, we will be there to fight it."
His plans would also mean that the "50,000 most chaotic families" would be made part of a family intervention project "with clear rules, and clear punishments if they don't stick to them."
Meanwhile, he said councils would have the power to ban 24-hour drinking in some communities to stop "teenage tearaways" turning town centres into no-go areas at night.
The Conservatives said the Pilkington case was a horrific one and accused the government of failure over the issue.
"We have had a decade of a Labour government telling us about anti-social behaviour legislation and instructions and orders to the police and it just isn't working," Conservative leader David Cameron said.
An inquest jury on Monday said police and local councils had not responded adequately to dozens of pleas for help from Pilkington.
She had suffered abuse and bullying from local youths, who threw stones and bottles at her house and set fire to her gate, as well as attacking her severely dyslexic son Anthony, 19.
Despite making more than 30 complaints to police, she received little response.
"We recognise that we need to have a better response to low- level anti-social behaviour," said Leicestershire's acting Chief Constable Chris Eyre.
(Editing by Steve Addison)
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