MP to crackdown on graffiti and vandalism in ‘levelling up’ bid

A crackdown on graffiti and vandalism plaguing communities is in the pipeline. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove is working with the Home Office, Education Department and Ministry of Justice on an “anti-social behaviour action plan” designed to cut low-level crime and restore pride in neighbourhoods.

The focus on graffiti and vandalism stems from a belief that allowing areas to appear run down encourages crime.

Key points are expected to include:

● Tougher punishments for people involved in vandalism, graffiti, public drug-dealing or vehicle theft;

● Forcing culprits to clean up or repair damage;

● More activities for young people to divert them from crime;

● Faster police responses.

A study by centre-Right think tank Onward warned the Government’s “levelling up” policy is faltering because a shocking rise in anti-social behaviour has made people in parts of the North and Midlands scared to visit high streets or use public transport.

It means businesses are robbed of customers and people even turn down job offers because they are afraid to travel to work.

Employers in Oldham have introduced their own minibus service because female staff don’t feel safe travelling to work on the local tram service, Onward found.

Reporting on the findings of a focus group, the think tank said: “Many residents said the tram simply isn’t safe. Anti-social behaviour on the network is high, as well as instances of more serious crime.”

A focus group in Walsall found residents avoided the town centre due to concerns about drug taking, fly tipping and “gang-related crime which goes unchecked”.

And the Government’s Crime Survey for England and Wales found 35 per cent of people experienced or witnessed anti-social behaviour in the past year.

Police forces recorded 1,065,844 incidents in the 12 months to October last year.

A Government spokesperson said: “Making our communities safer places to live is a key part of our levelling up agenda.

“And because we know anti-social behaviour can make life miserable for so many, we’ll shortly publish an action plan.

“This will focus on swifter justice for victims and tougher punishments for offenders.

“We are already recruiting an additional 20,000 officers. Our safer streets fund is also putting money into local projects to help tackle neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour.”

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