Thugs crackdown is working

ASBOS are working – but the culprits need harsher punishments.That was the message today from a south east Ipswich woman plagued by yobs who have made her family's life a misery.

ASBOS are working - but the culprits need harsher punishments.

That was the message today from a south east Ipswich woman plagued by yobs who have made her family's life a misery.

The woman was speaking as prime minister Tony Blair visited East Anglia to trumpet the government's new crackdown on the problem.

It coincided with the revelation that nearly 2,500 antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos) have been handed out since their introduction in 1999.

In Suffolk, nearly 70 have been issued to those causing most havoc to families and individuals in the county.

The victim - too scared to be identified for fear of reprisals - is one of those the orders are designed to protect.

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She said: "I think antisocial behaviour orders are good in general terms but they're useless unless the courts clampdown on them.

"These people are given so many 'second chances' and it's so frustrating. Sometimes I think the police are banging their heads against a brick wall because they get them to court and then they get let off.

"I know the culprits get threatened with prison but unless they actually get sent there I don't think there's any point to them. They have to get harsher punishments to stop them re-offending."

She was full of praise for the police and the other agencies who have led the fight against antisocial behaviour in her part of town.

But she added there is a still an atmosphere of intimidation and tension aimed towards her family as a result of past incidents, even though the main culprit has been subjected to an Asbo.

Her claims comes in the wake of complaints from residents and traders on the Queen's Way shopping parade that troublesome youngsters are making it a no-go area.

In the past few weeks, the police have been called to the area on a number of occasions, with windows smashed on some of the shops.

Andy Solomon, antisocial behaviour network manager for Ipswich, said Asbos are an effective way of tackling such problems.

He said: "Asbos are a useful tool to tackle antisocial behaviour but it must be remembered they are not the only answer to everyone's problems.

"In most cases they are successful 2 people completed their Orders without breaching them and some others are on course to follow suit although some others have not been so successful, as this has resulted in appearances before the Courts for ASBO beaches and in some cases prison sentences. Some people might regard this as a success in itself."

A Home Office spokesman said the rise in the number of Asbos being given out is the result of the government taking action to solve such problems.

The figures are published amid renewed publicity over Government plans to parachute anti-social order experts in to local authorities to make them tougher on yobs.

The "Asbo Ambassadors' will encourage councils and police forces to drive up the number of Asbos imposed on troublemakers.

What do you think of Asbos? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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