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Police to get new powers

Police are set to get a host of new powers to crack down on anti-social behaviour.

Officers will be able to close down drug dens within 48 hours, and keep them shut for up to six months. For the first time, the Government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Act gives police-style powers to accredited private security guards. Later in the year, security guards and Community Support Officers will get further powers under the same Act.

Also introduced are controversial new police powers to disperse groups of people who have gathered in an area designated an anti-social hotspot by the local council. The host of new powers created by David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, were designed to target yobs, nuisance neighbours, vandals and drug dealers who make life a misery for law-abiding residents.

New restrictions on air weapons, raising the age for legal possession from 14 to 17, also come in today. It will also be an arrestable offence to carry air guns in public “without lawful authority or excuse”.

And the point of that was?

Tony Martin was clearly a trailblazer:

A proposal to allow homeowners to use “any means” to defend their homes, has topped a BBC poll on the bill people would most like to see become law.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme asked listeners to vote on suggested Private Members’ Bills, with the first choice taking 37% of the votes.

Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, whose fatal shooting of a burglar in 1999 sparked a national debate, welcomed the result.

As well he might. For him this is a vindication. For others, though, thi is an embarrassment, not least of all for the Conservative MP who was supposed to be Tony Martin’s champion:

Tony Martin’s MP, Conservative Henry Bellingham said the idea went too far by suggesting homeowners should use “any means” to protect their property.

→ Continue reading: And the point of that was?