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Anti-social Behaviour Awareness Week – [Mr Virendra Sharma in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Sharma. I congratulate the hon. Member for Redcar (Jacob Young) on securing this important debate, which is timely and very pressing. My first job after university was working for the former Member for Redcar, Mo Mowlam, so I know his area a bit, and some of the challenges that he talked about were similarly challenging back then.

Anti-Social Behaviour Awareness Week is a good initiative. There are lots of groups that I could pay tribute to, but I will highlight ASB Help and Resolve in particular —two really good organisations that work year-round to tackle this blight on our communities. Hon. Members who made contributions have spoken about the lack of a co-ordinated approach to tackling antisocial behaviour. The hon. Member for Redcar said that it was one of the most pressing issues in his inbox, and I think that is probably the same for all Members of Parliament, whether their constituencies are rural, urban or a mix of both. His call to return to a common-sense policing approach to antisocial behaviour is the right one.

My hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) talked about all of the issues with off-road biking, as did others, and that is something that particularly affects people across the country. I did not know that he had written two books, but I do now—I will make sure that I read them. The hon. Member for Darlington (Peter Gibson) talked about people feeling imprisoned in their homes, and had some good suggestions on off-road biking, which have been mentioned in this place many times before. There is a package of measures on off-road biking, and various Bills have been suggested by Members across the House, so there is agreement there and I hope the Minister is listening to those suggestions.

We are all aware of the real misery that antisocial behaviour causes. Before Christmas, in the autumn, I made trips across the country, in my role as shadow Policing Minister, to try to understand the scale and diversity of antisocial behaviour: how it affects different communities, the impact it has on them and what is being done about it. Those were eye-opening trips. Although each area was unique, everywhere I went it was clear that antisocial behaviour is not low-level crime; it is massively underestimated and massively under-prioritised in the way that policing is done in this country. It ruins lives, makes people feel unsafe and worried, and creates division in communities.