Section 16 — Authorisations

Part of Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:45 am on 17th June 2004.

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Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat 11:45 am, 17th June 2004

Two issues in the bill have caused real difficulties: the first is the carte blanche approach that the Executive took to the electronic tagging of children; and the other is the power of dispersal.

I am happy to say that the Executive saw sense on the first issue. It returned to what was said on the subject of tagging in the partnership agreement between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party. Tagging will be available only on the same criteria as those which are used for secure accommodation. I congratulate the Executive on amending the bill at stage 2 in respect of the electronic tagging of children.

However, I am afraid that in the amendments that it has lodged for today's debate, the Executive has not addressed the real issue that lies behind the power to disperse. It is not the designation of the area that is the problem but the second stage, which is the action that is to be taken against individuals who have done nothing wrong.

When the Justice 2 Committee took evidence on the bill, no one came forward to support the power to disperse. For instance, Douglas Keil of the Scottish Police Federation said:

"Every police officer to whom I have spoken has said that there are more than enough powers"—[Official Report, Justice 2 Committee, 6 January 2004; c 435.]

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland is also against the power to disperse, as is the voluntary sector.