Home Secretary John Reid faces a new outcry after it emerged that his officials were considering a publicity campaign urging people to "stop moaning" and to do something themselves about anti-social behaviour.
It is believed the move could form part of an aggressive campaign ordered by Mr Reid to get members of the public to take greater responsibility for what it is happening in their neighbourhoods.
The initiative follows weeks of damaging disclosures about the Home Office in the wake of the foreign prisoners deportation fiasco that led to the sacking of Mr Reid's predecessor, Charles Clarke.
The Tories said it was "brazen beyond belief" for Mr Reid to try to shift responsibility for his department's failings on to the general public.
The Home Office would not confirm the plan, although one official suggested that it was "just one idea among many" being looked at in the department.
According to reports, the proposed campaign would be based around the slogan "Don't moan - take action - it's your street too".
Mr Reid was said to have briefed fellow ministers about the plan at a meeting last Monday of the Cabinet committee responsible for driving forward Tony Blair's "respect" agenda.
Shadow home secretary David Davis said that Mr Reid - who has admitted that parts of the Home Office are "dysfunctional" - should stop lecturing the general public and put right the failings in his department.
"After six weeks of serial incompetence by the Home Office on everything from killers on probation to the escapes of serious criminals from open prisons, it is brazen beyond belief for the government to turn around and try to shift responsibility on to the shoulders of the public," he said.
"Yet again, Mr Reid is trying the tired strategy of recycled gimmicks and initiatives as an attempt to distract attention from the violence and disorder that the Government has allowed to spread on our streets.
"What he needs to do is to put less effort into this bluster and more effort into focusing on the reasons that his Government is failing to catch criminals to convict them, to lock them up and to keep them locked up.
"Until they get the basics right he would do better not to lecture the public."
A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed that helping people to tackle anti-social behaviour in their area was a "key priority", but she stressed that they were not expecting members of the public to act on their own.
"Helping hard-working families to tackle anti-social behaviour in their area is a key priority for the 'respect' task-force. We will continue to look at ways of making this happen," she said.
"We have increased police numbers to a record high of more than 141,000, introduced more than 6,000 Community Support Officers, we are bringing in local, visible and accessible neighbourhood policing and equipping them and local communities with new powers under anti-social behaviour orders.
"The idea that we are asking neighbourhoods or local people to act on their own is complete nonsense but we do want them to work in partnership with local police and their community." ..SUPL: