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

I am sorry, Presiding Officer, but I need to press on.

The pact's past record in addressing more serious crime is no more encouraging. Drug crime is up 5.7 per cent in the last year alone and 46 per cent since the pact came to power—[Interruption.] I have made it clear that I am not taking any interventions. The number of persons recalled to prison from supervision on licence is up a staggering 317 per cent over the same period.

There is no prospect of improvement in the statistics as long as the pact refuses adequately to address automatic early release and drags its feet over its commitment to provide a directory of available drug rehabilitation centres in Scotland. Instead, the minister is content to continue the rhetoric about providing record numbers of police officers to prevent and deter crime. The coalition can never hope to be taken seriously in that regard when it continues to squander precious resources on community wardens rather than full-time police officers. It is utter madness to continue to spend limited funds on employing four community wardens when we could have three full-time police officers for the same price. Laws are meaningless without proper enforcement. Without adequate numbers of police on the beat to detect crime and offending, the antisocial behaviour legislation will remain the proverbial damp squib.

I urge the minister to consider parenting orders: a provision in the antisocial behaviour legislation that she has so far ignored but which could make a real difference. When I last asked her, none had been issued in Scotland. Each incident of youth disorder should be properly recorded and the parents issued with a warning, so that when a pattern emerges, parenting orders are automatically available and used. That would ensure that parents are held properly accountable for the supervision of their children. Crucially, that would not only protect an increasing number of children from the dangers to which they are currently exposed in the community but would stop antisocial, disorderly behaviour deteriorating into serious crime.

I move amendment S2M-5608.2, to leave out from "acknowledges" to end and insert:

"notes, in relation to community safety, that since 1999 crimes and offences are up, that according to the Scottish Crime survey only one in four crimes is reported to the police, that drug crime has increased 5.7% in the last year, that automatic early release of prisoners is not being adequately addressed and that there is a crisis of public confidence in the criminal justice system, and calls on the Scottish Executive to increase police numbers to improve levels of community policing, to bring forward an expansion of drug rehabilitation facilities and to restore clarity and honesty in sentencing in order to improve community safety and rebuild public confidence in our criminal justice system."