Section 16 — Authorisations

Part of Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:30 am on 17th June 2004.

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Photo of Colin Fox Colin Fox SSP 11:30 am, 17th June 2004

I begin by assuring the minister that I fully understand the strength of feeling in communities throughout the country about the need to address and solve the problems that are associated with groups of young people carrying out offending behaviour in their areas.

Like the minister and the First Minister, I have been to Broomhouse this week. I spent Monday there meeting the save our scheme campaigners, who are grappling with what the minister calls the real issues. The people of Broomhouse, like those of many other schemes in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland, are grappling with two decades of being told that there is no chance of getting a community centre, a youth programme or facilities. I am sure that they were honoured to have a visit by the First Minister, who probably confirmed the same message.

I welcome the minister's statement that a comprehensive range of measures is needed to solve the problem. I also welcome the remarks attributed to the First Minister when he was in Broomhouse, which were to the effect that antisocial behaviour orders on their own will not solve the problem. It is recognised across the board that a wide range of measures is required. Perhaps the Executive is showing signs of having been listening to others in the debate over the past year. I welcome that.

I dissented on the issue in the Justice 2 Committee because I felt that virtually all the evidence that was put before the committee—I appreciate that that evidence was different from that received by the Communities Committee—stated that the powers of dispersal were not needed and were not helpful in addressing the issue. As the minister knows, the proposal was widely criticised on numerous grounds at committee. Among the criticisms was the anxiety that it sends a message that we do not want to send to young people. We do not want to send a message to the vast majority of young people in Scotland—who, as the minister and the Parliament know well, are a credit to the country and to the communities that they live in—that there is a danger that they will be caught up in the dragnet when they are doing nothing wrong and will be dispersed from an area. That is a very dangerous signal to send. The police and young people's groups made the point that the measure could set back a long way relations between the police and the young people with whom they work.