We support any initiative that effectively deals with violence and disorder on our streets and so we applaud the results so far of a new drive in Portsmouth to combat unacceptable behaviour.
So far 50 troublemakers have been banned from city businesses and entertainment areas in a scheme organised by the Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership and the police. Those involved have therefore felt an immediate effect of their selfish, lawless actions.
That is good, and we sincerely hope that those involved will learn a lesson from the freedom that has been properly denied them.
Particularly serious offences should of course result in prosecution but we see the sense in giving people who have transgressed for the first time an opportunity to mend their ways.
The second chance must though be viewed with gratefulness by those involved. Under the banning orders, police have the power to arrest anyone defying the prohibition placed upon them.
In such cases, we would argue, there should be no further chance. Those who defy a ban should be taken to court and dealt with severely there. Ideally, the law should allow that the initial offence also be dealt with at that stage, by means of a fine or custodial sentence if appropriate in place of the initial warning which, in this case, did not work.
We don’t want to see people thrown into prison and neither do we want to see offenders treated as outcasts by society. But – and it is a big but – we want even less to see troublemakers and hooligans getting away with it and in doing so cocking a snook at the law-abiding, tax-paying majority of us.
Neeta Dhorajia, crime manager for the Portsmouth Business Crime Reduction Partnership, says: ‘We build a profile of an individual and the problems they are causing so we can take the correct steps to address them and the effect their behaviour is having on our members’ businesses.’
We agree with that, but expect that if those correct steps do not immediately work, the offender in question should feel the full force of the law.