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Howard: Taking a stand against yob families

Speech at press conference in Conservative Campaign Headquarters

"I'm delighted to be here today with David Willetts and Sandy Bruce Lockhart, Leader of Kent County Council.

The first duty of government is to protect the public.

Mr Blair promised that he would be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime".

That was all talk.

Crime and disorder are making life a misery for millions of families across Britain - hard working families who do the right thing, abide by the law and take pride in their homes and their local communities.

The decline of individual responsibility; The proliferation of so-called "human rights"; and Mr. Blair's failure to draw a distinction between right and wrong - all this has left Britain unable to get a grip on rising crime and disorder.

Respect for the law, respect for others and respect for property: these values are at the heart of a successful society.

We're one Britain, one nation, one country - and everyone should have to play by the same rules.

The vast majority of families accept that.

But there is a very small minority of families who don't: families where parents don't take responsibility for their children; families whose yobbish behaviour literally ruins local communities; families who seem to think they are above the law.

In too many communities, this tiny minority is making the majority's life a misery.

So if you're thinking what I'm thinking - it's time to hold these parents to account and get their children to behave properly.

We've had eight years of Mr. Blair pussy footing around this issue - eight years of spin.

It's time for action.

Britain deserves a government that upholds the law - not turns a blind eye when the rules are bent or broken.

Of course there are lots of reasons why children go off the rails.

So we need action to tackle the roots of crime - drugs, poor education and truancy.

If kids don't learn to respect for authority in the classroom they are less likely to respect others when they grow up.

That is why a Conservative Government will give head teachers complete control over discipline in their schools.

They will have the final say on expulsions.

I will not allow the minority to ruin the lives of the majority.

But a child's future is far too precious simply to be written off if they are expelled from school.

Today, too many expelled children drop out of education and get into crime.

So a Conservative Government will create Turnaround Schools for persistently disruptive pupils to put them back on the straight and narrow.

We will invest heavily in these schools so that troubled youngsters get the help they deserve: learning the basics, reading, writing and arithmetic; a practical skill so that they can get a job when they leave; drug treatment if they need it.

But ultimately people are responsible for their actions.

While no government can solve all the problems we face, every government can send a clear message about doing the right thing.

I want to send a clear and unequivocal message - actions have consequences.

Today, the only real punishment for breach of an anti-social behaviour order is prison.

This is clearly not right for many youngsters.

Courts already have the power to suspend the driving license of with criminal convictions. A Conservative Government will give the courts the additional power to delay the right to a driving license for anyone who doesn't yet hold one.

Youngsters will know that if they don't behave, they won't drive.

After all a car is one of the biggest status symbols a youngster can have.

And a Conservative Government will take action to hold to account the tiny minority of parents who refuse to keep their children under control.

We will introduce supervision orders for parents' whose children persistently breach ASBOs. Parents will have to spend time at home with their kids - and families will be stopped from going to the places where they cause all the trouble.

This tiny minority of troublesome families also need to understand that, if they don't mend their ways, they risk being forced to leave their neighbourhood.

So we will give local authorities the power to withhold housing benefit from families whose immediate members are convicted three or more times of anti-social behaviour.

This is tough I know.

But we've got to take a stand.

Local communities should not have to settle for this nonsense.

My aim is clear.

I don't want members of the public looking over their shoulders - I want criminals looking round in fear.

It's time to give the yobs a dose of the fear they've been dishing out to the rest of us.

Now I use that word deliberately - Fear.

I want these people to fear the consequences of their actions.

Let there be no misunderstanding: I want to make them fear the consequences of their actions.

So while Mr Blair talks, a Conservative Government will act.

We will act to tilt the balance of power away from the disruptive minority in favour of the decent law abiding majority who make up the backbone of our country.

People will face a clear choice at the next election: a choice between a Conservative Government that will reward people who do the right thing and hold to account the small minority of families who don't - or five more years of pussy footing around from Mr Blair."

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