One year on from the launch of the Respect Agenda, the Government renewed its determination to crack down on antisocial behaviour by unveiling 40 local authority "Respect" zones.
The zones, including Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, were chosen using indices such as deprivation, high levels of antisocial behaviour, truancy and school exclusion levels.
Ministers announced that the councils have earned the right to be exemplars of the programme by their strong track record of achievement in tackling antisocial behaviour and a willingness and capacity to do more.
In return for increased funding, the zones have committed to use the full range of powers available to them to address the problem.
All the respect zones have signed up to a package of measures involving:
· Family intervention projects to tackle "neighbours from hell"
· More parenting classes for parents struggling with troublesome children
· "Face the People" sessions where the police, local authorities and others can be accountable to their local public
· Keeping up the relentless action to tackle antisocial behaviour by using the full range of tools and powers available
· Using the Respect Housing Standard to prevent and deal with any problems in social housing.
The Department for Education and Skills has backed the campaign by investing a further £6 million for parenting classes in these 40 areas during 2007/2008. The move marks another step in the Government's campaign to bring the fight against "yobbism" down to community level and focus more resources into preventative measures aimed at tackling the root causes of antisocial behaviour.
Tony Blair has commented that: "Central government can provide the powers and the resources but it is the police, local authorities and local people who have to use them effectively to deliver results... "Communities know where their real problems are, and they now know how best to use these new powers to tackle them".
The Government is also publishing a "Respect Handbook" which it claims "reinforces the warning that there are no more excuses for local services not to take action and to send the message that it is time for them to 'face the people' and be held accountable by their public".
The move has not, however, been welcomed by everyone. Opposition parties dismissed the plans as offering little real help to communities.
Nick Herbert, the shadow police minister, remarked: "The Government has cut 4,000 promised police community support officers from the forces covering these so-called 'respect areas'. Communities don't want gimmicks like 'respect handbooks' - they want police officers on their streets to take real action against antisocial behaviour". The 40 areas are: Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, and Hove, Bristol, Burnley, Bradford, Coventry, Derby, Doncaster, Exeter, Gloucester, Harlow, Hastings, Hull, Ipswich, Kirklees, Knowsley, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oldham, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Salford, Sandwell, Sheffield, South Tyneside, Southampton, Southend-On-Sea, Sunderland, Wakefield and The Wirral. Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton,