February 7, 2011 / 2:57 PM / 9 years ago

Police could seize iPods in war on yobs

LONDON (Reuters) - Yobs could have personal items such as iPods confiscated under new plans to stamp out anti-social behaviour in the wake of the now discredited Asbos.

Police will also be forced to follow up complaints by victims who are persistently targeted, the government said on Monday.

Ministers said the ineffective, slow and costly Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos) will be replaced with tougher but simpler measures to combat anti-social behaviour.

Announcing the planned reform of the system, which he likened to a confusing “soup” of orders that failed to tackle the scourge, Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said four new measures would replace 18 powers currently used to control louts.

Brokenshire told reporters that a “streamlined” system was needed to tackle the yob culture pervading Britain’s streets because Asbos introduced 13 years ago under Labour had failed to make an impact.

He said some 3.5 million incidents were reported to police forces in England and Wales alone last year. Countless more had been reported to councils and housing associations, he added.

Asbo usage had fallen by around 60 percent over the last five years while latest figures showed 56 percent of orders were being breached and that the failure rate was rising.

Shadow Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker attacked the plans as a makeover and said the cuts, which he said would translate into 10,000 fewer police, would make the job of tackling offending that much harder.

“What we have learnt is that no matter what measures you introduce, you need the officers to enforce them,” he said.

Under the new initiative, Brokenshire said, troublemakers could face the same asset seizures as major criminals, such as iPods and stereos.

“We want to ensure that, if there are sanctions and measures for people who break the law...that there are effective teeth to them.” Assets of known drug dealers and street gangs would be specifically targeted.

“It is time for a new approach that better supports victims and makes it easier for the authorities to take fast, effective action,” Brokenshire said.

In addition, he hinted that offenders’ passports may be seized.

Asbos and other measures available now are to be replaced by Criminal Behaviour Orders and Crime Prevention Injunctions.

The orders would ban individuals from certain activities or places and a breach could land the perpetrator in jail for five years.

The injunctions are designed to nip bad behaviour in the bud, Brokenshire said.

In another rule, authorities including police and councils, will be “forced” to take action if several people in the same neighbourhood complain or if one victim complains three times without any action being take.

The “Community Trigger,” as it is called in a consultation document, is in response to the case of Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca in 2007 after being terrorised by youths outside their home in Leicestershire.

Public consultation on the new proposals runs until May.

Editing by Steve Addison

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