Community Safety

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:40 pm on 21st February 2007.

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Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour 3:40 pm, 21st February 2007

The fact that we have had what could be described as a lively debate shows just how important community safety is to communities throughout Scotland.

I will respond to some of the points that members have made, but first I say that the Executive motion does not, as has been suggested, represent an attempt on our part to paint a rosy picture or to suggest that everything has been resolved. We lodged the motion because we know that there is a huge amount of work still to do. Of course we must recognise how far we have come, because that is one way in which we can empower communities to stand up to the antisocial behaviour that has plagued them for far too long.

As has been outlined, the Executive has empowered communities by giving a lead. I have experienced that for myself on visits throughout Scotland, and it is not just in Ayrshire, which Margaret Jamieson spoke about, that people have welcomed what I have done. They have told me that they know that we cannot solve the problems overnight, but that dispersal orders, antisocial behaviour orders and noise nuisance orders are all beginning to work and are having an impact on their communities. On Monday, I met some people in the east end of Glasgow, in Paul Martin's constituency, whom I had met before to find out what difference dispersal orders had made. Front-line police officers agreed that dispersal orders had made a difference.

I say to Margaret Mitchell, with all due respect, that she was absolutely wrong to use the word "squander" in relation to the spending of resources on the introduction of community wardens. That is a shocking accusation to make about the work of 500 people throughout Scotland who are the eyes and ears of the communities in which they are based and who—as the police will confirm—are working hand in hand with the police.

Community wardens are not police officers, of course, and we made no attempt to suggest that they were, because they do a different job. I went to a conference of most of Scotland's community wardens and they told me that they could do more on behalf of communities. They said, "Give us more powers and we will use them." That proposal is well worth considering.

I know that people have differing views on Paul Martin's suggestions. This week, I met a young man from the east end of Glasgow who told me that he had been involved in antisocial behaviour. He put his hands up and told me that he had got in with the gangs and had been involved in a range of activities. The people from Glasgow City Council's antisocial behaviour team worked with him and got him involved in the Army cadets for a short time. That helped to shape his views and get him back on the right track.

Of course it is right that we should deal with the causes of crime.