MUGGINGS, beatings with baseball bats, and "neighbours from hell"... not an inner city but relatively affluent Prestwich and Whitefield, says MP Ivan Lewis.

He catalogued residents' complaints in the House of Commons when he spoke during the Second Reading of the Crime and Disorder Bill last week.

Daily episodes included cars being stolen; gangs of 13-year-olds "swigging cans of lager and bottles of wine" keeping people awake; and a teenage son coming home late from school trying to avoid a gang which has repeatedly mugged him.

And he recited a tale of two 15-year-olds being given only a caution when they beat a teenager with baseball bats, fracturing his jaw. He is now in a psychiatric hospital suffering stress.

"These are not fanciful scenarios but real-life experiences in my constituency," the Bury South MP told the House.

He welcomed removing the presumption in law that children between ten and 14 cannot distinguish between right and wrong.

"Child curfews were scoffed at by the great and the good when first mooted by the Home Secretary.

"They should live in neighbourhoods such as Polefield where elderly people are terrorised by such young children late at night."

"This Bill represents the beginning of a genuine and long-term fight-back against an acceptance that crime must always disfigure our society."

On youth crime, Mr Lewis cheered plans to introduce parenting orders.

"Parents are no longer going to be allowed to avoid their responsibility for the well-being and behaviour of their children," he said.

Mr Lewis said the Bill was the "first piece in the jigsaw" to combat crime and disorder.

"Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime may have been a slogan," said the MP. "But it represents the only honest and effective way of minimising crime and disorder in the future."

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