Rishi Sunak outlines ‘immediate justice’ scheme to combat antisocial behaviour

<span>Photograph: Leon Neal/PA</span>
Photograph: Leon Neal/PA

Offenders guilty of crimes such as vandalism will be ordered to start repairing the damage they caused within two days of receiving their punishment, under a government pledge to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Victims of crimes will also be given a say over the type of punishment that offenders should face, as will communities, under an “immediate justice” scheme to be unveiled by Rishi Sunak on Monday.

In an attempt to show that “justice is being done”, offenders will be made to wear jumpsuits or hi-vis jackets and work under supervision. Cleaning up graffiti, litter-picking or washing police cars have all been given as possible punishments.

Offenders could also be assigned to help on projects that support their local community, including doing unpaid work.

The prime minister’s intervention confirms that antisocial behaviour is emerging as a central battleground for the next election. Keir Starmer has already pledged to prioritise low-level crime. Labour has said it will tackle drug dealing, boost the numbers of neighbourhood police and create new “respect orders” to target persistent antisocial behaviour offenders.

The latest government scheme will see new funding for police and crime commissioners in order to force those responsible for offences such as vandalism or graffiti to start cleaning up their crimes within 48 hours of receiving an order. The exact level of funding has not been announced.

The system will be tested in 10 areas before it is rolled out across England and Wales next year, the government has said. While there is little detail on exactly how victims and communities will be involved in setting punishments, officials said they would have some input alongside local police and crime commissioners.

The scheme forms part of the antisocial action plan, to be unveiled this week. Tackling crime was not among the “five immediate priorities” Sunak announced after he took office, but Downing St has been keen to fight back against Labour’s promises to tackle it.

“For too long, people have put up with the scourge of antisocial behaviour in their neighbourhoods,” Sunak said. “These are not minor crimes. They disrupt people’s daily lives, hold businesses back and erode the sense of safety and community that brings people together. That’s why I’m bringing forward a new plan to crack down on this behaviour once and for all – so that everyone can feel proud of where they live.”

A pilot programme will also see teams of offenders deployed to clean up more urgent incidents of antisocial behaviour. It will be overseen by the probation service and selected councils.

The new schemes come in addition to the “community payback” programme for more serious offenders, which will be expanded from 5m hours a year to up to 8m hours.

According to government figures, last year saw 1,500 offenders spend almost 10,000 hours on 300 community clean-up projects. Ministers want to double that figure.