Community Safety

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:49 pm on 21st February 2007.

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Photo of Margaret Mitchell Margaret Mitchell Conservative 2:49 pm, 21st February 2007

Were the motion that is lodged in the Deputy Minister for Justice's name to be taken at face value, one would be forgiven for thinking that real progress had been made and effective measures taken to restore public confidence in the criminal justice system and to ensure that decent, law-abiding people could feel safe in their homes. Sadly, the reality is somewhat different. A less rosy but decidedly accurate picture of the problems facing people in Scotland is contained in the amendment in Annabel Goldie's name. It details the full extent of the problems and outlines the measures that must be pursued to ensure that people have the protection that they deserve and are entitled to expect.

How on earth can the minister possibly believe—and ask the Scottish Parliament to support—the assertion that good progress is being made towards making our communities safer when only one in four crimes are reported to the police? The surgeries of MSPs and other elected members are full of constituents who complain that they have simply given up reporting disorderly and criminal behaviour, either for fear of reprisals from the perpetrators or because they are totally disheartened by and disillusioned with the lack of effective sanctions and the response to their complaints. I can only imagine how delirious those same constituents will be about the coalition's latest policy announcement on fixed-penalty notices, which will now be issued for a wider range of crimes, including: drunken rioting in a pub; breach of the peace—such offences have risen by 26 per cent since the pact came to power in 1999; and vandalism, incidents of which have increased by 57 per cent in the same period.