Here are exceprts from the speech by Stewart Dickson MLA (subject to change on delivery): “13% of people in Northern Ireland consider the level of anti-social behaviour in their area to be high, and it was identified as the biggest policing issue in the 2010 Policing Board Omnibus Survey.
“I would like to note the great successes we have had in recent years at tackling anti-social behaviour. Across Northern Ireland, it has reduced by an average of 20.7%. These figures are to be commended, and I trust that Minister is determined to build on them and that Members are committed to supporting him in this task. It is worth asking what measures lay behind these successes because this will give us a good idea of what we should do in the future.
“I believe that preventive measures have been key to the successes so far. This view is supported by the work of criminologists and other academics, and by the situation on the ground in Northern Ireland.
“Over recent years we have witnessed the development of a combination of measures that have increased community confidence and encouraged community involvement in crime prevention. These include initiatives such as Community Safety Wardens, Neighbourhood Watch and CCTV.
A number of diversionary initiatives have also been developed to reduce the potential for ASB.
“We should renew our commitment to helping families at an early stage to prevent the development of misbehaviour. Early intervention is key. More police powers is not.
“The police already have a number of measures at their disposal to deal with ASB, many of which I have mentioned, including warning letters, ABCs, and ASBOs.
“Existing legislation allows the police to ask groups to ‘move on’ where, for example, they are causing a breach of the peace. They can also give a direction to individuals who represent a risk of disorder to require them to leave a public place. (Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006, Section 27). I therefore do not believe that increasing police powers is necessarily the best way to proceed.
“Effectively tackling anti-social behaviour requires sustained engagement with local agencies and communities to put in place preventive measures. I therefore support the UUP amendment put forward; however, I cannot support the original DUP motion calling for an increase in police powers, as I believe that the evidence is against this.”