Tough line demanded on thugs

COURTS should take a tougher line when dealing with young thugs who make life a misery for residents on some Ipswich estates.That's the verdict today from the new man charged with making Ipswich a safer place.

COURTS should take a tougher line when dealing with young thugs who make life a misery for residents on some Ipswich estates.

That's the verdict today from the new man charged with making Ipswich a safer place.

Conservative Paul West took on the "Cleaner, Safer Ipswich" portfolio when the new administration was formed last month.

He feels that initiatives from the police and the council to improve security on estates had been undermined by the courts.

Mr West said: "I think that both the former administration and the police have made a real effort to try to tackle the problems in these areas.

"But too often when youngsters are brought up in front of the court they are sent away with a slap on the wrist and they are left laughing at authority.

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"There does need to be a tough line with some of the troublemakers who we are seeing coming up in front of the courts."

Mr West said he would be looking at getting additional funding for more CCTV cameras on estates in Ipswich.

"We have seen that they have worked well in the town centre and the government is suggesting there may be additional funds available to extend their range.

"That might well help people in areas like Reynolds Road and Queens Way," he added.

Mr West was aware that some people feared CCTV cameras would merely move trouble elsewhere.

"I have heard that argument - but the logical conclusion of that would be that you wouldn't have cameras anywhere, you'd take them away from the town centre.

"I don't think that's realistic - all the evidence suggests that they work in reducing the amount of anti-social behaviour in the areas they cover," he said.

Chris Bowler, director of legal services for the Suffolk magistrates' court committee, said justices operated under national guidelines.

"For the breach of an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO), the normal starting point would be a custodial sentence - and only under exceptional circumstances would that not be applied," he said.

"Anyone up for a breach that involves the committing a criminal offence, that is part of a pattern of behaviour that we would want to discourage, that involves other people, or involves violence in any form will expect custody.

"Since ASBOs came into force, more than 60 have been granted in this area - and councils and police can apply for them," he added.

Do you think the courts are too soft on young troublemakers? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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