Letters - Tough love in Camden

While it is true, as Brendan O'Neill (Observations, 13 September) reports, that Camden has just obtained its 100th antisocial behaviour order, this is part of a much wider effort. We are the only UK authority to commit to rolling out Sure Start across the borough; our schools budget is 128 per cent of the amount the government deems necessary; we have one of the most proactive and admired council homelessness services; our Street Services Team helps people on the street to find housing, employment, training and health services. We also work to increase access to drug rehabilitation projects. Only as a last resort do we seek to obtain an Asbo - because our residents are fed up to the back teeth with their children, on their way to school, having to climb around people shooting up in the stairwell or on the street.

Asbos have made a difference: a 43 per cent fall in street crime in King's Cross over the past year. O'Neill claims crime has been displaced to neighbouring Fitzrovia. That is in Bloomsbury ward, where crime also fell in the 12 months to July 2004 - from 493 incidents to 379. Anyway, in the vast majority of cases, Asbos apply across England and Wales.

Jane Roberts
Leader, London Borough of Camden

This article first appeared in the 20 September 2004 issue of the New Statesman, Property scandal