Labour demands stronger rights for antisocial behaviour victims

Elliot Chappell
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Labour has called on the government to introduce stronger rights for antisocial behaviour victims as research has revealed that the number of people experiencing antisocial behaviour has hit a record high.

Commenting on the annual crime survey for England and Wales (CSEW), which revealed that 5.5 million more people experienced antisocial behaviour last year than in 2011/12, Nick Thomas-Symonds described the rise as “shocking”.

“The shocking rise in the number of people experiencing antisocial behaviour is a huge cause of concern for families and communities across the country,” the Shadow Home Secretary said this evening.

“People deserve to feel safe and secure in their neighbourhoods and town centres, but under the Conservatives police numbers have been slashed, violent crime has risen to record levels, and antisocial behaviour has been left unchecked.”

According to the CSEW, 40% of respondents experienced some form of antisocial behaviour in 2019-20, equivalent to 19.1 million adults aged over 16 across England and Wales. 7% said there were high levels of antisocial behaviour in their area.

The research showed that the proportion of respondents experiencing antisocial behaviour has risen across every police service area over the past five years, increasing from 28% to 40% across England and Wales since 2016.

Thomas-Symonds added: “Labour will work to put more police on our streets and would act where the Conservatives have failed and introduce a new victims’ law that would give victims of antisocial behaviour the same rights as victims of crimes.”

The last Labour government introduced the victims’ code of practice and set up the office of the Victims’ Commissioner. The Tories pledged to bring in a comprehensive victims’ law in their 2017 and 2019 manifestos but have failed to do so.

When first elected as an MP, the now Labour leader Keir Starmer introduced a bill to strengthen victims’ rights to challenge decisions over criminal investigations and create a statutory duty to report suspected child abuse in 2016.

Labour introduced new legislation to parliament in February, which sought to put victims’ entitlements on a legal footing. As a ten-minute rule bill, it is unlikely to make further progress since this type of bill is not given priority in parliament.

Shadow minister for victims and youth justice Peter Kyle urged government ministers at the time to “examine these proposals in depth and either pass this bill, or bring forward a comprehensive draft of their own”.

The proportion of criminal cases failing due to victim non-cooperation has trebled since 2015, now standing at 25% of all cases. A recent survey showed that only 14% of rape respondents believed justice would be done if they reported a crime.

Reporting figures reveal that 99% of rapes reported to the police in England and Wales result in no legal proceedings. Thomas-Symonds recently described this as a “get out of jail free card” for those committing offences.

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