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Birmingham council threatens neighbours from hell with court.

Almost 100 neighbours from hell have been threatened with prosecution in Birmingham in the last 12 months.

Another 200 people have been forced to sign acceptable behaviour contracts - in which they promise to end anti-social behaviour.

The figures have been published by the Home Office in a bid to show the Government is winning the battle against yobs and gangs. Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour had been particularly successful in "trailblazer" areas such as Birmingham, which had received extra funding to tackle the problem.

Between October 2004 and September 2005, 94 families received housing injunctions, threatening them with legal action for excessive noise, harassment or drug dealing.

Exactly 200 people, mostly teenagers, signed acceptable behaviour contracts in the same period.

But Conservative critics accused the Government of "gimmicks and complacency".

MP Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) said: "If Charles Clarke and the Labour Government think they are winning the war against anti-social behaviour, they are living in cloud cuckoo land."

Acceptable behaviour contracts involve people signing a promise not to take part in activities such as assault, criminal damage or prostitution.

They are warned that if they break the contract, they could receive an anti-social behaviour order. A housing injunction is a warning that a tenant might be arrested for behaviour ranging from playing loud music at night to using their home to deal drugs.

The Home Office said it had a conducted a survey which found the number of people people perceiving high levels of anti-social behaviour in trailblazer areas had fallen from 25 per cent to 19 per cent over the last two years. But Labour MPs claimed that Birmingham City Council was failing to employ the new powers at its disposal to clamp down on anti-social behaviour firmly enough.

Labour MP Liam Byrne (Hodge Hill) said: "The Government has given local authorities the tools to deal with anti-social behaviour, but for them to be an unalloyed success they must have the full commitment of councils.

The Government also unveiled proposals today to lower the threshold at which criminal assets can be seized from pounds 5,000 to pounds 1,000, in an effort to tackle more small-scale drug dealing in local communities
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 13, 2005
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