The new team of specialist prosecutors to combat antisocial behaviour and take perpetrators to court was launched by the government today.
The 12 prosecutors will ensure that local authorities and the police are making full use of new powers to crack down on unruly behaviour, according to the home secretary, David Blunkett and the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.
They will also be able to apply for antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos), a key government measure to combat low level crime and disorder, and be responsible for pursuing cases through the courts.
Mr Blunkett said the specialist prosecutors would be a vital part of the fight back against individuals who ruin local communities.
He said: “They will lead the response of the criminal justice system, to match the courage and dedication of victims and witnesses with a firm resolve to ensure offenders receive the punishments they deserve.”
Lord Goldsmith said: “It’s time we gave more priority to tackling antisocial behaviour through the courts.
“These offences may be at the low end of the criminal calendar, but the effect they have on the lives of thousands of law-abiding citizens can be devastating. Antisocial behaviour prosecutors are going to help us do that.”
The prosecutors will be based in Manchester, South Yorkshire, Merseyside, West Midlands, the London borough of Camden, Avon and Somerset, south Wales, Lancashire, West Mercia, Sussex, Kent and Northumbria. Their work will be funded by £2m from the Home Office for two years.
A government analysis of antisocial behaviour showed there were 66,107 incidents reported to police and councils in England and Wales during just one day last September. It estimated antisocial behaviour costed Britain £3.4bn a year.
The Antisocial Behaviour Act gives the police and local authorities new powers to combat nuisance neighbours, drug dens, abandoned cars, gangs of youths on street corners, vandalism and a range of other issues.
Last month, council wardens were given powers to issue £50 on-the-spot fines for fly-posting and graffiti.