Community Safety

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:08 pm on 21st February 2007.

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Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative 3:08 pm, 21st February 2007

I regret that not one of the minister's constituents who have come to see me has mentioned community wardens. They have referred to matters such as bail legislation, which the minister and her colleagues passed, under which people who have committed serious crimes are back on the street within minutes of being charged. That is the kind of thing that people care about.

I have been to schools in the minister's constituency and I have found that the pupils are extremely concerned about antisocial behaviour. Indeed, the minister and I have shared platforms with pupils who have talked about their concerns, but community wardens were not mentioned once. Pensioner groups express concerns to which Johann Lamont's motion does not refer—we must address those concerns.

Margaret Mitchell was right to say that only one in four crimes is reported to the police. What about all the crimes that are not reported? Such things matter.

Members have talked about people purchasing alcohol for youngsters. Complaints about people doing so have been made time and again in the past 10 years, but we have not advanced one bit towards addressing that problem, although it is well worth addressing.

Members would be shocked and dismayed if I did not refer somewhere along the line to the effect on our justice system of the European convention on human rights. Our system was once well respected throughout the world, but it has recently been turned on its head. I accept that the Tories were at fault in introducing a halfway term for prison sentences, but we recognised our misdemeanour and tried to address it in 1997. However, the Labour Party in Government and the Scottish Parliament have failed to address that misdemeanour.

The Scottish National Party's amendment hits on one or two useful issues. For example, it is right to address the burdens that the Scottish Parliament has imposed on the police. However, I say to SNP members that the police have usually gone along with Parliament's placing additional burdens on them, and that they have added to those burdens. Perhaps the SNP's amendment is not quite what it seems.

Annabel Goldie's amendment, which outlines the realities of the justice situation and antisocial behaviour in Scotland, is worthy of members' support.