Retailers have welcomed the formation by the government of a new Respect Task Force, which will work toward neighbourhood renewal, combating anti-social behaviour and supporting local alcohol and crime- fighting initiatives.

The task force, which will be based in the Home Office, will work across a number of government departments including Defra, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions. It will be headed by the former anti-social behaviour unit national director Louise Casey, who becomes the government’s co-ordinator for respect.

Commenting on the task force, which will be responsible for co-ordinating production of a national action plan on respect and its delivery, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said: “From bad behaviour in schools and poor parenting to binge drinking and noisy neighbours, disrespect for others can take many forms. Tackling disrespect in our society is an absolute priority for the government, and this new task force will play a vital role in improving our communities and the lives of people in them.”

Mike Howe, who runs a Londis store in Clyst St Mary, Devon, said: “It’s a step in the right direction. Yob culture and anti-social behaviour is not going away and it’s good to see the government backing up the promises it made during the election to try to tackle it at a local level.”

The creation of the cross-governmental taskforce comes after the Home Office announced the launch of a consultation to introduce a set of standard powers to ensure Community Support Officers (CSOs) can play a greater part in community policing and allow them to handle more issues on the spot. Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) public affairs manager James Lowman said: “We encourage retailers to work with their CSOs to tackle on-going problems, and extending their powers will be very useful to help to local stores and communities alike.”