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

I thank Patrick Harvie for his clarification.

Sometimes there are circumstances in which we have to compel young people to undertake programmes or to do other things to change their behaviour. Of course it is right and proper that we try to get young people to turn their lives around voluntarily. However, we do those young people no favours if we simply allow them to cross the line time and time again and cause damage in communities without putting something in place—whether we are talking about antisocial behaviour orders or conditions in supervision orders—to make them realise that there are consequences to their actions. Of course we need to tackle the causes of antisocial behaviour, but for the good of the individuals who are involved in such behaviour and the wider community we must also tackle the aspects of people's behaviour that cause problems.

I think that Scotland's commissioner for children and young people circulated to MSPs a paper that suggests an approach that supports pro-social behaviour as opposed to one that deals with antisocial behaviour. Throughout Scotland, important work is going on—often supported by community wardens and police officers—to provide diversionary activities for young people. Over the weekend, I met young people who are involved in the twilight basketball initiative, which is funded by money that has been seized from the proceeds of crime and returned to the areas that have been hardest hit by drug dealing and violent crime. During an exciting final between a team of young people from Govan and a team of young people from Easterhouse, I had a chance to chat to parents from Springburn, who have seen the initiative provide a positive activity for young people in the community. They said, "It's not money and resources we want from you. Just give us local parents a bit of support to continue the initiative and give young people some hope." Such initiatives are part of our approach to antisocial behaviour. There is no single, isolated strand to our approach, as some people have tried to suggest; we have taken a comprehensive approach to dealing with problems.

Finally, I sound a cautionary note, because I heard comments during the debate that were not particularly helpful. Members seemed to be starting a bidding war around the number of extra police officers who are needed—whether it is 1,000 or 1,001. The issues that our communities face are too serious to permit us to get into a bidding war about numbers. There are issues about police visibility and about reassuring people and getting the police to do things in neighbourhoods. However, the issue is not simply the numbers; it is about how we free up police officers—