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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the noble Lord has rightly referred to two possible areas, one where loud noise is generated or people gather in large groups close to a pub, causing distress and harassment to the neighbourhood; or, secondly, where particular kinds of crime, including drug dealing, are carried on at a certain pub.
Subject to appropriate safeguards that are referred to in the White Paper, power is given to close down such places if the effect on the neighbourhood is such that they should not be allowed to continue operating.
Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I, too, welcome the many measures outlined in the White Paper leading, in the words of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, to a more respectful and less abusive society. The White Paper also refers to the early identification of children at risk and the legislation that is to follow. How will the resources required to achieve these aims be split? Given that the cost of anti-social behaviour and worse can be considerable if it is allowed to develop, should not the emphasis be on the identification of children at risk at an early age?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I endorse what the noble Baroness says about the need to take preventive measures. We need to identify at the earliest possible stage children and young people who might become engaged in anti-social behaviour and take steps to divert them from such conduct. We thoroughly endorse such an approach. We shall produce a Green Paper soon which will deal specifically with that issue.
But it is not a question of either/or. It is not possible to say to the community, "All our focus is on preventive measures and therefore we shall not do anything about the crime or anti-social behaviour that is going on at the moment". We need to emphasise both because both matter. If we do not deal with the immediate effects of crime and anti-social behaviour, the community will lose confidence in its own future. A community that has proper protection is much more confident in ensuring that its children and young people grow up and have gainful lives rather than being sucked into crime and anti-social behaviour.
The noble Baroness asked how the resources would be split between the two aims. I cannot give a precise figure. It is almost impossible to calculate what the percentage will be. We have to concentrate on both because they are equally important.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I wish to ask the Minister two questions. First, as regards the crackdown on noise and fixed penalty notices, it appears that environmental officers are to be allowed to make judgments which, as anyone familiar with the difficulties that can exist between neighbours will
Secondly, has the Minister considered that the deplorable behaviour in our streets, on our housing estates and between people has come about because of a lack of respect between people themselves; because of a dumbing down in education and on TV; because of a lack of respect between teacher and pupil and child and parent; and because of the awful, vicious programmes shown on television every day and every night at virtually any hour, particularly when children are about?
Has the noble and learned Lord seen the latest study from the United States which seems to prove what everyone previously deniedthat vicious, awful television programmes have an effect on children's behaviour which follows them into adulthood?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, as to fixed penalty notices, we propose that where there is excessive noise and an appropriate warning has been given, which will be for a short period of time, if the noise does not stop the local authorityin effect, the environmental health officer will make the decisioncan issue a £100 fixed penalty notice. That is a straightforward, sensible way of dealing with noise, which can occur late at night and be very disturbing. If the person does not pay or wants to challenge the penalty notice, he can go to court. It is an unbureaucratic, sensible way of dealing with the problem.
The noble Lord asks: is there a lack of respect between individuals in our society? Yes, there is. That lack of respect is one of the reasons why anti-social behaviour is perceived to be on the rise. Is it caused by the content of television programmes? I suspect that, in the case of some television programmes, it is. I do not know about the research referred to by the noble Lord, but I suspect that the content of some programmes does have an effect in terms of people's lack of respect. One must seek to increase people's respect for one another and the way they treat each other in their daily lives.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lady Howe and welcome the general direction of the Statement. I note what was said about educational under-achievement. Do the Government accept that truancy from school, which can lead to exclusion and suspension, is where a great dealperhaps not allanti-social behaviour arises? What extra resources have been allocated to deal with these matters? How effective have been the measures taken so far?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, that once truancy starts it leads to a whole range of other problems. The White Paper on anti-social behaviour focuses specifically on
I also agree that when a point is reached where a pupil has to be excludedwhich may be reached in order to deal with the problem of the other children in the schoolit is very important, as we have committed ourselves to doing, to ensure that opportunities for proper education are provided for the excluded child. The more people are cut off from education, the more chance that crime and anti-social behaviour will grow.
Earl Russell: My Lords, have Ministers found what I have found through my experience both as a parent and as a teacherthat is, that the way people discharge their responsibilities to me shows an uncomfortable correlation with the way I discharge my responsibilities to them? Does the noble and learned Lord agree that the keystone which closes up the arch of rights and responsibilities is the responsibility of governments to keep their subjects alive? In this context, during Questions the Minister referred to research on the way people survive benefit sanctions. Can he, either now or in writing, give me the references for that research. Ministers have often recommended me to research on the subject; I have looked in all the places they mentioned but I have never found the information I sought.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the noble Earl skilfully uses the Statement to return to an issue he raised during Questions. The papers that I have in relation to research into the effects of benefit sanctions are DSS Research Report 11, TSO 2000 and DSS Research Report 116, TSO 2000. If the identification numbers are wrong, I shall write to the noble Earl and tell him so.
I agree with the proposition put at the outset of the supplementary question to the supplementary question to the Starred Questionnamely, yes, the way in which a person behaves towards one is determined by how one behaves towards the other person.
Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: My Lords, returning to the Minister's answer to my noble friend Lord Waddington, he said that where the problem is caused by pubs or clubs, environmental health officers will have the power to close them. Do not the police or the licensing authority have an existing power to close a public house on objection being taken to the continuation of its licence? Is it proposed that environmental health officers should have the right, without applying to anyone, to direct a public house to close in the way the police now can?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the noble Lord is correct in his reference to the existing licensing provision. The White Paper makes it clear that where there is, for example, excessive noise and, as a result, significant anti-social behaviour in a neighbourhood,
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, will the Minister elaborate on the proposals for intensive fostering? How many children are likely to be involved? Where will funding for the placements come from? Is he concerned about the shortage of foster carers in certain areas? What impact will the proposals have due to that factor?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, as regards the proposal in paragraph 2.2 and following paragraphs of the White Paper, it is obvious that, both in relation to proceedings brought under the Children Act 1989 and in the youth court, intensive fosteringthat is, placing a child away from its current environment and in the care of foster parents experienced in dealing with the kinds of problems that the child may exhibitwould be a very sensible alternative. I do not know how many children will be involved. The numbers of foster parents available to provide the intensive fostering can be built up only slowly over time, and they are a rare commodity. Where the resources come from will depend on the extent to which the focus is on the social services and the extent to which it relates to the criminal justice system. It will take time to build up, but it is an important resource both for social services and for the criminal courts.
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