Baroness Newlove hits out at ‘failures’ of police’s 101 service
The 101 service is failing and should be overhauled as part of measures to end the “nightmare” of anti-social behaviour, the Government’s victims tsar has said.
Baroness Newlove said long waits and charges when calling the non-emergency number were causing many victims to give up or ring 999 instead.
The outgoing Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales, whose husband Garry was kicked to death by yobs in 2007, was scathing in her assessment of how the problem was being dealt with by police and councils.
Chief among her concerns was that anti-social behaviour was being treated as “low-level” by authorities, which failed to appreciate the devastating impact it could have on victims.
Baroness Newlove said she was “enraged” by the attitude of officials and politicians and warned that “depressingly little” had changed in supporting those afflicted by the scourge of anti-social behaviour since her husband’s murder.
“Despite the promises, even today the circumstances leading up to Garry’s death are echoed around the country,” she wrote, in an article for the Daily Telegraph.
Baroness Newlove said that reforms needed to include better ways for people to report anti-social behaviour.
She wrote: “We need to acknowledge and tackle the failures of the 101 phonelines too. If you cannot handle calls quickly, what is the point of it? And why should there be a charge when 999 calls are free?”
The Tory peer said victims needed to be “empowered”, while the underlying causes of anti-social behaviour also needed to be addressed.
“It’s almost 12 years since my husband Garry was kicked to death when he went outside to confront teenagers who were vandalising my car at our home in Warrington,” she wrote.
“So I know only too well how such ‘anti-social behaviour’ brings nothing but misery. This is why I feel so enraged whenever police and politicians dismiss it as ‘low-level’ crime.
“Twelve years later, here I am still calling for more to be done to tackle anti-social behaviour.”
A Government spokesman said it was “committed to tackling anti-social behaviour and ensuring victims get the response they deserve”.
He added: “That is why we reformed powers available to the police, local authorities and others to tackle anti-social behaviour and continue to keep them under review.”