02-10-2010, 08:27 PM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
Now Labour recruits army of child spies to report anti-social neighbours
Quote:Child spies will be encouraged to report their neighbours as part of the latest drive to cut thuggery and anti-social behaviour on estates.
As part of a campaign launched yesterday, youngsters will look for residents with untidy or litter-strewn surroundings and then try to persuade them to clean up their homes.
Children involved should also write to authorities to demand action against those whose houses are labelled anti-social, ministers recommended.
Using young people to target residents identified as letting the neighbourhood down ‘teaches the children a sense of pride’ and shows them they have the power to get things done, the Department of Communities and Local Government said.
But critics warned that anti-social behaviour on estates is routinely committed by children and recruiting school-age youngsters to report their neighbours is a recipe for intimidation.
‘A plan like this can easily be milked by young people,’ criminologist Dr David Green of the Civitas think-tank said. ‘I worry that it would become a licence for children to harass people.’
The child spy scheme was launched by Communities Secretary John Denham and Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who called for ‘an army of community champions to challenge anti-social behaviour’.
The plan is to be backed by leaflet drops to ten million householders across 130 areas of the country affected by violence, vandalism and gang activity. It follows growing disillusion with Labour’s decade of campaigns to reduce anti-social behaviour and a widespread perception that Asbos have been ineffective in deterring youngsters from crime.
Ministers said the child spies idea had been tested in Nottingham, where volunteers had ‘got young people themselves involved in challenging anti-social behaviour and learning that they do have the power to get things done’.
The Communities Department said that under the system children ‘spotted problems’ in their neighbourhood and then wrote letters to the authorities to demand action.
In one instance, it said young people identified untidy gardens, these residents received letters from the housing manager and ‘as a result these gardens have been tidied by residents’.
Mr Denham said neighbourhoods had been transformed by volunteers and hoped ‘their example can inspire many others to get involved’.
But Dr Green said: ‘There is a risk here that the same people who break up your car will then complain that you have left a wreck outside your house.’
● Snoopers could be given cash rewards for identifying benefit cheats under controversial plans being drawn up by ministers. They are considering whether informers should be given a share of the money saved.
Ministers believe offering incentives for reporting cheats will be a powerful tool in the battle to tackle benefit fraud, which costs taxpayers around £1billion a year.
But privacy campaigners called the idea ‘immoral and dangerous’.
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