Government pledge to help tackle touble

A TOP-RANKING Home Office official has pledged to work with Suffolk Police and local authorities to solve the anti-social behaviour problems plaguing an Ipswich estate.

A TOP-RANKING Home Office official has pledged to work with Suffolk Police and local authorities to solve the anti-social behaviour problems plaguing an Ipswich estate.

After the Evening Star set Home Secretary David Blunkett the challenge of helping residents tackle the menace of anti-social behaviour in Queen's Way shopping parade in south-east Ipswich, the Home Office's top-ranking anti-social behaviour officer has stepped in to suggest ways of fixing the problems.

Louise Casey is the director of the government's Anti-Social Behaviour Unit and is at the forefront of the national fight to remove anti-social behaviour from problem areas and prevent it from happening in others.

She told the Evening Star: "Anti-social behaviour blights people's lives - over a quarter of people say it's a problem in their area.

"The problems the Evening Star is highlighting in Queen's Way are sadly similar to those experienced in some other areas of the country.

"No one should have to tolerate anti-social behaviour and we are committed to providing those responsible for tackling it with the tools and support necessary to protect their communities."

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Since the beginning of the school summer holidays residents have reported a marked increase in the number of incidents in Queen's Way and traders have complained about threatening and nuisance behaviour among youngsters.

The problems peaked in late July when officers were posted to Queen's Way for four consecutive days after shops were vandalised and cars damaged but incidents have continued throughout August.

Police have arrested children as young as 11 for offences ranging from criminal damage to assaulting an officer and residents claim youngsters as young as five are involved in the trouble.

Officers working in the area say it is a minority of hardcore offenders who are the source of the problem.

Local councillors are now considering the use of new powers created under the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act.

Ms Casey said those powers provide an opportunity to restore the balance back in favour of the police and councils.

"(They) include the use of anti social behaviour orders prohibiting people from committing such behaviour or from entering a certain location," she said.

"We have also created dispersal orders giving police the power to designate an area to prevent groups from hanging around and intimidating innocent people.

"Within that zone officers would have the power to require groups to disperse and leave the area and also to return under-sixteens out alone to their homes after 9pm. We know these powers can be effective when used in the right way.

"We will continue to work with the authorities and residents in Ipswich to help address this problem."

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