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Mr. Luff: As the Minister said, this matter is of real concern throughout the country. In Droitwich Spa, I recently held a survey on the causes of antisocial behaviour and constituents' responses to it. There were several distinctive elements in those responses—including policing, antisocial behaviour orders and the need for tough sentencing. There was a strong emphasis on the need to provide more facilities for ordinary young people; there is just not enough for them to do in the average British town. Will the Minister ask local authorities and public bodies to support schemes to help young people, such as, for example, the Droitwich Spa adventure playground, which provides an outlet for the energy of young people, and the Droitwich fusion centre, which is an advice centre for kids who get into difficulties?

Ms Blears: The hon. Gentleman is right: we need enough facilities in our communities so that young people have plenty of things to do and do not get involved in

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antisocial behaviour. In my own constituency, we have the street to stadium scheme: youth workers go out on the streets and offer young people the opportunity to take part in sporting activities—such as five-a-side football and basketball—which they try to provide at reduced prices. It is often too expensive for many young people to hire time in leisure centres. The workers try to ensure that young people can use such facilities or those in local schools. Sometimes, simply setting up a basketball net in some empty space can help to engage youngsters in constructive activities. It is also important to ensure that we involve girls as well as boys. There are many successful programmes that use dance to engage girls, who may not want to play five-a-side football—although many play it and are extremely good at it. A great deal of imagination is being used to set up schemes to support our young people.

Only a minority of young people are involved in antisocial behaviour; the vast majority want constructive activity. They are a credit to their community and make a huge contribution by helping people locally.

I am pleased to say that things are improving dramatically in my hon. Friend's constituency, due in no short measure to his personal intervention in trying to resolve a difficult situation. He has made tremendous efforts to mediate between the young people and local residents. I was glad to learn that only last Friday agreements were reached that were satisfactory to all concerned. From now on, the flats will offer accommodation only to five young people instead of 10. I hope that those young people will, therefore, be better supported and managed and that not so many of them will congregate in the area. They will be offered a more individual support service. I am delighted that peace has broken out in the community, and I hope that things will continue to improve during the next few weeks and months.

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The Government recognise the need to offer young people leaving care adequate and reliable support. We are also determined to tackle antisocial behaviour by young people, and to ensure that they are diverted both from that behaviour and from serious crime and that communities are properly protected. Those objectives need not conflict; they are intended to build healthy and safe communities. I am sure that we all share that aim.

The way to make progress is to admit the problem and to work together. In Ealing, local council staff, the police and the owner of the flats held meetings over a lengthy period to try to manage the situation. Local residents, the young people and the local authorities which originally housed them in Ealing were also included. That is crucially important: they all shared the solution so they all have a stake in making it work in future.

There has been a fruitful outcome to the open and frank discussion of the situation that led to my hon. Friend calling this debate. It should be possible to ensure that only the young people best suited to benefit from the support available in those flats are placed there in future. Placements must be appropriate. I hope that, in future, the local community will have the reassurance that it has sought for some time. The parties have come together and they mean to ensure that people can live in peace in their neighbourhood and make a contribution to their community. I have no doubt that the practice adopted by Ealing is some of the best in the country, and I am delighted that my hon. Friend was able to share some examples of that good practice with us.

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for his invitation to the open day on 10 August. I shall check my appointments and will try to be there. In any event, I am sure that it will be an excellent showcase for the abilities, talent and potential of many of the young people who are leaving care in his local authority.

Question put and agreed to.



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