Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 22nd March 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Duncan McNeil Duncan McNeil Labour 2:15 pm, 22nd March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what steps it is taking to ensure that the provisions of the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 are used effectively. (S2O-12460)

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

We have provided over £130 million to local partnerships to tackle antisocial behaviour and to promote community safety. Every local authority now has a dedicated antisocial behaviour team and a community warden service. Increasingly, local agencies are working with local communities and making effective use of the powers available to them to tackle the scourge of antisocial behaviour. We expect continued progress in implementing local antisocial behaviour strategies.

Photo of Duncan McNeil Duncan McNeil Labour

The minister will be aware that, although we have given local authorities the tools to do the job, some local authorities are less than enthusiastic about using those tools on behalf of their residents. Will she assure me that councils will not be rewarded for such an indifferent, half-hearted attitude? Will she make it clear that, in respect of the powers and money that local authorities have been given, they must use them or lose them?

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

First, I recognise that a significant number of local authorities have embraced the new powers. Understandably, local authorities that wish to represent their communities want the tools and resources to support those communities. When I have visited Duncan McNeil's constituency, I have been struck by the energy of community activists, who are also a crucial resource.

We have made it clear that we will support local authorities with resources and by providing advice, support and a challenging approach through our national co-ordinators, in order to ensure that the powers are used and the strategies are implemented properly. I agree with Duncan McNeil that we should not hesitate to withdraw funding from local authorities that are not making sufficient progress in implementing their antisocial behaviour strategies. Local authorities have a responsibility to their communities and we are committed to supporting those communities. Given the resources and the powers, local authorities must be challenged to ensure that their commitment to making communities safe is taken forward.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

Is the minister aware of the answer to parliamentary question S2W-32271 that Robert Brown provided to me on Tuesday this week? The answer states that, although the pilot for parenting orders started on 4 April 2005, no such orders have been made, despite the fact that we are now more than halfway through the three-year pilot period. The minister will recall that during the debate on 2 October 2003—I know that both she and I were present during that debate—Margaret Curran stated:

"We cannot simply ignore the terrible damage that bad parenting can cause."—[Official Report, 2 October 2003; c 2271.]

In the light of Duncan McNeil's criticism of councils for not using the new powers, will she take money away from all the councils in Scotland that have not used the parenting order power that we agonised over, or does the responsibility for the situation lie at the door of the Minister for Justice?

Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

The member has the advantage over me, in that I cannot report verbatim Robert Brown's answer to that question. However, I can say that the Executive and I are committed to the use of parenting orders. We have given local authorities the legislative framework and the funding for parenting orders, the need for which was identified by Parliament. Parenting orders are a means not just of dealing with parents who are acting inappropriately—they are not a threat to families—but of supporting families and ensuring that children are protected. We will continue dialogue with local authorities to challenge what seems to be their lack of use of a power. I emphasise that a blanket refusal by any agency to use any of the measures in the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 is unacceptable, so we will take action in that regard.