Dramatic new powers to throw home-owners out of their properties within 48 hours for committing anti-social behaviour were unveiled by Home Secretary John Reid yesterday.
Dr Reid admitted there is currently a "justice shortfall" in Britain, with too few people believing the criminal justice system is on their side.
He indicated that he wanted to move away from the traditional view that justice had to involve going to court – a significant departure which is sure to raise concerns from the legal profession and civil liberties groups.
Dr Reid said he wanted to create new powers to evict people rapidly from homes and other properties which cause persistent anti-social misery.
"I want to give the police powers to close down places which are the bane of a community," he said.
"Perhaps it’s a site used for raves or a house used as a brothel which draws people in at all times of the night and day.
"Shutting them down would be a last resort. But it could be done in 48-hours."
He added: "I think it is fair that where there is persistently excessive noise and rowdy behaviour or where residents intimidate and threaten their neighbours around the clock, the consequences are clear and tough."
A Home Office spokesman said the measures would apply to privately-owned or rented accommodation.
The powers would be based on existing measures which allow police to close crack dens within 48 hours. Speaking during a visit to Bristol yesterday, Dr Reid said the crack den closure orders had already been used 52 times in the city since they came into force in January 2004.
He also said he wanted to attach a suspended fine to the existing system of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, or ABCs – a voluntary agreement designed to keep unruly children under control.
A spokesman said it would involve applying an #80 on-the-spot fine to someone who agreed to an ABC, which would kick in only if they breached the agreement.
It could be suspended for up to six months to keep the trouble-maker on the straight and narrow .
If the person on the ABC was a child, parents would be liable to stump up the fine, and would therefore have a direct financial incentive to keep children under control, the Home Office suggested.
The Home Office also announced that the top rate for a wide range of existing on-the-spot fines will increase from #80 to #100.
Dr Reid said: "The problem we face is what I call the justice shortfall. That is, the difference – sometimes big – between what you and I think is justice, and what a lawyer or legal academic might think it is.
"My kind of justice is swift, effective and matches the crime.
"To me, justice should work for the victims of crime, not against them. I suspect that’s probably your idea of justice too. But too often the perception isn’t matched by the reality."
He went on: "Although public confidence in the justice system is rising, 36 per cent of people think the justice system meets the needs of victims.
"That’s compared to 80 per cent who think it’s fair to the accused. That chasm in perception needs to be addressed."
He also asked the public to come forward with additional ideas for new powers needed by the police to deal with bad behaviour on the streets.
The Home Secretary set out moves for "quick, effective and common sense" justice.
"I’m not arguing against people having a fair hearing. But ... having a fair hearing doesn’t always mean having your day in court, although there will be the option of a court hearing," he said.