Boris Johnson has said the sight of "fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs" will act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour as he unveiled plans for a crackdown on crime.

The Prime Minister said offenders would made to do unpaid work such as litter picking to repay their debt to society - and compared them to prisoners performing menial labour.

In his first public appearance since he was forced in Covid isolation, Mr Johnson also claimed that enhancing controversial stop and search powers was a "kind and loving" thing to do.

He told reporters: "I do think that the lockdown has driven some anti-social behaviour and we need to deal with it.

Boris Johnson said high-vis chain gangs of offenders would act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour
Boris Johnson said high-vis chain gangs of offenders would act as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour

"That's why we are backing the police in the way that we are.

"But I also want to see those who are guilty of anti-social behaviour properly paying their debt to society.

"Somebody's anti-social behaviour may be treated as a minor crime but it could be deeply distressing to those who are victims.

"If you are guilty of anti-social behaviour and you are sentenced to unpaid work, as many people are, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be out there in one of those fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs visibly paying your debt to society."

Mr Johnson defended the move to expand stop and search powers, branding it a "kind and loving" way to combat knife crime.

Critics have sounded the alarm over the decision to remove restrictions on stop and search powers to let police search someone without reasonable grounds in an area where serious violence is expected.

Campaign group Liberty said the move would "compound discrimination in Britain and divide communities" as black people are nine times more likely to be stopped than white people.

"I disagree with the opponents of Stop and Search. Section 60 Stop and Search orders, I think, can play an important part in fighting crime," the PM said.

"They are not the only tool that we have got to use. They are part of a range of things we have got to do to fight street crime.

"I think that giving the police the backing that they need in law to stop someone, to search them, to relieve them of a dangerous weapon - I don't think that's strong-arm tactics, I think that's a kind and a loving thing to do.

"The people who often support stop and search most passionately are the parents of the kids who are likely themselves to be the victims of knife crime."

The new blueprint also includes plans for every neighbourhood in England and Wales to have a “named and contactable police officer” and league tables showing forces' success in hitting 999 response targets.

Alcohol tags – which detect booze in the sweat of offenders guilty of drink-fuelled crime – will be piloted on criminals leaving jails in Wales.

Use of electronic tags will be expanded so burglars and thieves will have their whereabouts monitored 24 hours a day upon release from prison.