Fears Over Asbo Overhaul In Once-No-Go Estate

David Crabtree, Midlands correspondent

A decade ago, residents of Comberton in Kidderminster dubbed their estate a no-go area - but things have changed.

The Government plans to axe anti-social behaviour orders and introduce two new orders , in an effort to speed up the response to complaints from the public.

Rosemary Bishop, a community action group member, reflected on life before the introduction of Asbos in Comberton.

"Older people would barricade themselves into their homes from three in the afternoon until the next morning," she said.

"So many people lived in constant fear of gangs, just kids really who made their lives a misery."

One pensioner kept a bucket of water below his letter box because lighted fireworks or paper would be pushed through on a regular basis.

"When the Asbo system was introduced it slowly began to kick in," said Ms Bishop.

"Youngsters did use it as a badge of honour at first, but they found that the consequences for them were so restrictive and frightening that they corrected their behaviour. It really worked."

Locals say life has improved ten-fold with the help of a pro-active community. But the action group is now worried that the new plans will be less effective.

Peter Cooper, who runs a drop-in centre for youngsters on the estate, said: "No one came here and asked us how the system can be improved. We worry about this.

"Putting a figure on how many times people should complain doesn't make sense. We knew where we were with the Asbo. Only time will tell with these new ideas."

Daniel Lamb, now 23, who lives on the estate, was one of the first people in the UK to receive an Asbo.

"It did change me I think," he said.

"It stopped me from going to certain places at certain times and that was pretty bad. I don't know much about what is being said now but these restrictions did make a difference."

Local meetings are planned on the Comberton estate to discuss the Government's new measures.

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