North East MPs and police chiefs have reacted to the Prime Minister's pledge to "stamp out" anti-social behaviour “once and for all” with a £160 million plan.

The Northern Echo spoke to leaders across the region after Rishi Sunak pledged more police patrols and swifter punishments for those blighting communities.

In proposals heavily briefed beforehand, it will include trials of swifter justice measures and increased policing in areas of England and Wales deemed to have high amounts of low-level crime.

The Northern Echo: Rishi Sunak in Chelmsford for the announcement of a £160 million plan that will stamp out anti-social behaviour Rishi Sunak in Chelmsford for the announcement of a £160 million plan that will stamp out anti-social behaviour (Image: PA)

Laughing gas will be banned, drug testing of criminals will become more prevalent, on-the-spot fines for graffiti and fly-tipping will be increased and more money will be ploughed into youth centres as part of a bid to eradicate anti-social behaviour.

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The Northern Echo:

Welcoming the latest announcement, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen said: “I am delighted Durham has been included in the 16 pilot areas and will receive significant extra funding to deliver this two-year crackdown to target ASB on every front.

 “However, while this funding, welcome though it is, will indeed help to put a more visible police presence on the streets, it is only a two-year pilot. We need long-term investment for long-term solutions.

“It’s interesting that ten of the areas in this pilot have not seen the number of police officers return to 2010 levels.”

We need long-term investment for long-term solutions.    It’s interesting that ten of the areas in this pilot have not seen the number of police officers return to 2010 levels.  We need a fundamental change to the funding formula to make it a level playing field.

“This funding is confirmation that what we are already doing across the force area is working well. Thanks to the determination of my office and our partners, ASB has reduced by 16.4 per cent over the last quarter and this lift will help us to deliver even better results for our communities.

“Work will start almost immediately. There will be an impetus for offenders to be apprehended from the outset so that hardworking people can see justice taking place in their communities instantly. But we also have an opportunity to expand our behaviour change work to prevent more of these crimes happening in the first place."

She added: “I am particularly pleased that nitrous oxide is to be banned – an issue I’ve fought long and hard for on behalf of our communities here in Durham and as part of my national portfolio responsibilities.

"Drug taking, fly tipping, noise problems and neighbourhood disputes all have a hugely detrimental impact on quality of life and wellbeing. The public rightly expects them to be dealt with quickly and strongly and this funding, alongside tougher powers and legislation, will make that job much easier. It will also help restore confidence, trust and pride in the Police and the wider justice system.”

The Northern Echo:

Jill Mortimer, Conservative MP for Hartlepool welcomed this news for positive change.

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She said: “This is really good news for Hartlepool and Cleveland. ASB is one of the things that people raise with me most often – whether just in passing or formally through my office.

“I am so pleased that the Government has recognised the great need for serious action on this issue through their Anti-Social Behaviour Plan, highlighting Cleveland as an area for not only one, but both, of the pilot schemes.”

The Northern Echo: Mary Kelly Foy

Mary Kelly Foy, Labour MP for the City of Durham, however, thought the campaign was virtue-signalling from the Conservative Party.

She said: “The Tories’ like to talk tough on crime in the media but in County Durham lives have been blighted by anti-social behaviour which is a direct consequence of the policies this Government have pursued for thirteen years.  

“When I speak to residents in places like Brandon it’s clear that resources are spread far too thinly on ground to tackle anti-social behaviour.

“The Conservatives are promising ‘immediate justice’, but these measures are too little too late from a party that has lost the public’s trust.”

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The Northern Echo:

PCC for Cleveland Police Steve Turner said this was good news for Teesside.

He said: “Everyone should have the right to enjoy community spaces without the fear of encountering antisocial behaviour, littering and vandalism.

 “Sadly, from my conversations with residents, businesses, and community groups across Cleveland, we know that this can be their distressing, daily reality – and they’ve had enough.

 “Through this increased investment, we will be able to invest in high-impact, visible measures to act as a deterrent and demonstrate clear consequences for offenders.”

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Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Police Kim McGuinness was less impress, however.

She said: “13 years of government cuts have caused a rise in ASB and now we’re only getting half the solution.

“Government has announced limited funds for extra police patrols, but they still owe Northumbria more than 500 extra officers to reverse cuts to police numbers.

“Ministers say they want to tackle ASB but if they do not invest long term in preventing ASB with good neighbourhood services, in youth workers and councils and community hubs, the Government will simply run out of money to deal with those people committing ASB.”

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Conservative Cllr Cathy Hunt from Durham County Council said: “After the Joint Administration motion was passed at full council, we wrote to that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and I am encouraged that they finally responded to the Government with a report earlier this month.

“The decision by the Government to go a step further and restrict the supply of nitrous oxide has merit.

“However, that must be done in a way that does not target the young people, who should be considered among the victims in this situation, and not the perpetrators of crime.”

Peter Scott, a director of Teesside-based recycling experts Scott Bros said: “Those dumping rubbish or fly tipping are to be targeted with ‘hot spot’ policing and ‘short and sharp’ punishments, but it all depends upon the government’s definition of what is a hot spot as, by its very nature fly-tipping, is often random and unpredictable.”