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Blair to take on thugs

He has picked up a new fight with anti-social thugs, with hard-hitting plans to combat 'neighbours from hell'.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2006 15:17 IST

Prime Minister Tony Blair was to pick a new fight with anti-social thugs on Tuesday, with hard-hitting plans to combat "neighbours from hell" in his drive to restore respect in British society.

As part of his battle to stamp out loutish behaviour, problem families could be evicted from their homes and lose their welfare handouts under powers currently used on drug dens, newspapers reported.

"Anti-social behaviour by both adults and young people creates havoc for the communities around them," Blair was to say, according to the Daily Mirror newspaper.

"We will take tough action so that the majority of law-abiding, decent people no longer have to tolerate the behaviour of the few individuals and families that think they do not have to show respect to others."

The Guardian newspaper said Blair would cite "intractable problems" with some people's attitude which particularly blighted "the most disadvantaged communities".

Problem families may be forced into rehabilitation courses covering anger management and financial discipline, and could be required to live in a secure local authority "sin bin", the newspaper said.

The proposals may even involve coaching parents on how to handle their out-of-control offspring.

Parents of pupils excluded from schools could be fined if their children are caught walking about the streets.

Blair pledged that restoring respect in Britain would be at the heart of his third and final term in office on his re-election in May last year.

David Cameron, the youthful new leader of Britain's main opposition Conservatives, said Blair had wasted nine years in office with short-term, eye-catching tactics rather than long-term action on louts.

"Remember the plan to march yobs to cashpoint machines?" Cameron wrote in The Guardian.

"The real respect agenda has to go deeper than gimmicks," he said, offering to slash bureaucracy for social entrepreneurs.

Blair has vowed to take on the teenage thugs causing mayhem in British town centres, who hide their faces from closed-circuit television cameras by wearing baseball caps or hooded tops.

The anti-social behaviour agenda has been masterminded by Louise Casey, Blair's "co-ordinator for respect".

She apologised following an ill-judged after-dinner speech last year in which she lauded binge drinking, threatened to knock out Downing Street officials and boasted how she liked to get completely drunk.

First Published: Jan 10, 2006 15:17 IST