§ 3. Kevin Brennan (Cardiff, West)
If he will make a statement on the number of antisocial behaviour orders that have been successfully sought since their introduction. 
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett)
I offer my congratulations to my hon. Friend.
Up to 31 March this year, 214 antisocial behaviour orders had been issued across England and Wales. Thirty-three of the 43 police authority areas have been responsible for their issue. I hope very much that there will be an acceleration in that programme.
§ Kevin Brennan
Will my right hon. Friend be able to take steps to ensure a much more widespread use of 8 antisocial behaviour orders? Does he share my concern that I have come across many people in my constituency who have been disappointed that the police and the local authority are not making greater use of such orders, which, together with measures to tackle the causes of crime, represent a potent weapon in the fight against crime and disorder?
§ Mr. Blunkett
Yes, I do. I am sorry that it looks as though only one antisocial behaviour order has so far been issued in my hon. Friend's area. I hope that, by examining any suggestions for slimming down the procedures and speeding up the process, we shall be able to persuade local authorities and the police to take them up. Of course, they are civil orders—and were opposed for that reason—as opposed to criminal orders, which are available as part of broader community sentencing.
I read in The Times this morning an article that suggested that I was about to abandon antisocial behaviour orders. The article was full of all sorts of other inaccuracies. I want to make it clear that, far from abandoning them, I want to strengthen them and spread them more widely.
§ Mr. Humfrey Malins (Woking)
Three years ago, when considering the proposals in Committee, I warned the Government that antisocial behaviour orders would be unworkable and over-bureaucratic. Ministers responded that more than 5,000 would probably be made every year. Is not the fact that only just over 200 have been made evidence that this flagship policy has been an utter failure and flop? What will the Government do to stop these orders? They are an absolute waste of time.
§ Mr. Blunkett
So, we have someone who warned before the orders were introduced that they would be a failure, and who now thinks that, because the procedures adopted are not in line with what he believes, the orders are a failure—even though more than 200 have been issued and only 10 per cent. have failed to achieve their goal, which is a tremendous record compared with other aspects of the application of the law. Other Conservative Members want us to slim down the procedure so that the orders might be used more effectively. I wonder which faction the hon. Gentleman will be backing and which of the candidates for the leadership are for or against antisocial behaviour orders. On the Government Benches, we are wholeheartedly in favour of using them to protect people in the neighbourhoods and on the estates that are bedevilled by crime.
§ Ross Cranston (Dudley, North)
May I assure my right hon. Friend that antisocial behaviour orders are working—despite what is said from the Opposition Benches? In Dudley, some eight have been issued already and another seven are in the pipeline. They are having a ripple effect in the community. However, there are some technical problems. One is non-appearance by defendants. Cases can of course be proved in absence, but there is a reluctance among the authorities to do so because that means releasing to defendants the details of complainants. 9 Will my right hon. Friend look at some of the technical problems to ensure that antisocial behaviour orders have a beneficial effect in all parts of the UK?
§ Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)
Like the constituents of a number of Members, some of my constituents—some elderly and others young families—are having their lives made a misery by the activities of neighbouring households. The right hon. Gentleman has, effectively, challenged my right hon. Friends and I on what we would do to deal with such people. The way is to make it easier to have them evicted. The one prospect that really puts fear into those people is that of eviction. No one should be allowed to use security of tenure as an excuse to enable them to continue to terrorise their neighbours.
§ Mr. Blunkett
One thing that is undeniable is that a considerably greater number of people whose lives are bedevilled by antisocial behaviour by their neighbours come to Labour Members' surgeries—including mine—than come to most Opposition Members' surgeries. That is because the incidence of such crime and nuisance tends to lie in areas of greatest disadvantage, and that is why we are totally committed to doing something about it. I shall co-ordinate plans with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions to take whatever steps are necessary—whether using social housing or some other means—to ensure that we get such measures in place. However, simply evicting people, without a court order, would be denounced overnight by the Opposition—and quite rightly, too.