Antisocial Behaviour Orders (South Lanarkshire)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 27th April 2006.

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Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour 11:40 am, 27th April 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive how many antisocial behaviour orders have been applied for in South Lanarkshire and how many have been granted by courts in Lanark and Hamilton respectively. (S2O-9627)

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

A survey of local authorities in Scotland reveals that 51 antisocial behaviour orders were applied for and 17 orders were granted in South Lanarkshire in the period 2002-03 to 2004-05. We do not hold information centrally on the number of orders that are applied for and granted in particular courts.

Photo of Karen Gillon Karen Gillon Labour

The minister is aware of concerns in my constituency that the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 is not being used as vigorously and effectively as it could be. Indeed, the minister is to visit my constituency this evening to hear directly the concerns of local residents. What steps can the Executive take to ensure that the police and local authorities work together to use the full force of the law so that communities such as those in my constituency do not suffer from antisocial behaviour, as the act intended?

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

Karen Gillon highlights a particularly sensitive issue. The Executive's legislative programme has been delivered in this regard: we created the 2004 act to tackle the problem of antisocial behaviour and we provided substantial resources to do so. We need to consider carefully the next step. We do not interfere in the operational independence of the police. It is up to chief constables to use resources and to decide, through their officers, the ways in which they will enforce the act in their localities. The Executive also does not attempt to interfere in the independence of local authorities to deliver services in their areas. If there is a failure in any part of Scotland to use the powers under the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004, local members, councillors and communities need to ask councils and the police why they are not using the powers that were granted to them.

I have had representations from other members with constituencies in the Strathclyde area. For example, it appears from the evidence that dispersal orders, closure orders and vehicle seizures are not being applied for and used in the way that other local authorities are using them in the rest of the country. We are producing information that gives a picture of what is happening across the country and we will circulate it to all local authorities and all members. When people are armed with that knowledge, I hope that they will ask the appropriate questions at the local level.

Photo of Linda Fabiani Linda Fabiani Scottish National Party

As was the case with an earlier question, Karen Gillon's question relates to local authorities' implementation of national policy frameworks. How can the Executive ensure that local authorities put into effect the agreed policies of the Parliament?

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

That question is slightly different from the one that Karen Gillon raised, which asked why the police and local authorities are not using powers that have been made available to them.

In terms of the policy framework, everything that has been asked for has been done: staff have been appointed, money has been allocated and plans have been produced. With those in place, we come to a different set of questions, including why dispersal orders have not been used and why ASBOs have not been applied for. Neither the Executive nor the Parliament should dictate what happens in local communities. Local representatives should question those who are responsible at the local level and hold them to account for their actions. Local communities should do the same. It is not reasonable to suggest that we should dictate from here in Edinburgh the exact way in which the powers are used in every community in Scotland.

Photo of Margaret Mitchell Margaret Mitchell Conservative

The minister might be interested to know that my colleague Annabel Goldie was told last week that only two ASBOs for the under-16s, three dispersal orders and no parenting orders have been applied for in Scotland. Will the minister explain why there has not been greater take-up of those orders in areas such as North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire— and, indeed, throughout Scotland—where there is a clear need for them to combat youth crime? The deep suspicion in communities is that they are not being implemented because there are inadequate police to enforce them. Can the minister allay those fears?

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

I repeat that the powers are in place and the money has been provided. Local agencies must now use them. Margaret Mitchell needs to ask the police and councils in her area why those things are not happening.

We need to have a sense of perspective. The Executive did not anticipate that large numbers of ASBOs for under-16s would be made as a result of the passage of the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004. Criticism was levied that the act might be used as a blunderbuss, but that was never our intention. The powers need to be used proportionately. That said, where they are not being used at all, local agencies should be asked why they are not using them.

Photo of Des McNulty Des McNulty Labour

The minister might have read this morning about one of my unfortunate constituents who rode his mini quad bike into a police photo shoot, thereby managing to get himself arrested.

I understand that one of the problems in enforcing the regulations against users of quad bikes and mini quad bikes—at least in the Strathclyde area—is that the police have no forms that they can hand over to people. Will the minister ensure that mechanisms are in place to enable the police to enforce the regulations and that the penalties associated with the use of quad bikes, which are a great disturbance to my constituents, are adequately publicised?

Photo of Hugh Henry Hugh Henry Labour

There are a number of examples of local authorities taking positive action to encourage young people in particular to use quad bikes responsibly. In North Lanarkshire there are some good examples of facilities being made available. We encourage local authorities to do that. We will reflect on whether there are any legislative gaps, but it is for local police to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place.