Antisocial Behaviour

Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 14th June 2007.

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Photo of Nigel Don Nigel Don Scottish National Party 2:15 pm, 14th June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what plans the Cabinet Secretary for Justice has to strengthen the legislation on antisocial behaviour. (S3O-257)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

The Government plans to take a fresh look at our antisocial behaviour strategy to see where it can be strengthened and improved and how we can ensure greater community involvement. We will feed the results of on-going evaluations of antisocial behaviour orders and dispersal powers into that wider review.

Photo of Nigel Don Nigel Don Scottish National Party

Does the minister agree that it takes far too long to remove offenders whose behaviour is loutish, persistent and protracted? Does he agree that we should be able to speed up the processes of dealing with those who knowingly and willingly act in defiance of the reasonable expectations of those who live around them?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

To ensure that the public are protected from the unacceptable behaviour of a minority of society in Scotland, interim antisocial behaviour orders can be obtained within 72 hours. The procedure to obtain a full ASBO requires 21 days' notice.

The Government is taking a fresh look at the antisocial behaviour strategy, to ensure that it is strengthened and improved, and we expect to report back in due course, after we have had further examinations and meetings.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Labour

I listened with great interest to Fergus Ewing's first reply. I hope that, in taking forward that fresh look, he will not weaken antisocial behaviour legislation. Given that the Scottish National Party abstained in votes on dispersal powers in the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004, does that mean that the SNP does not fully support the use of dispersal powers or, given their successful use in various parts of Scotland, has the SNP changed its mind?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

The review will, of course, consider what is working, what is not working and what is not working well. We have supported the use of enforcement measures in the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004. That is now three years old, so it is appropriate to have a review.

I say to Margaret Curran and the many other members who are rightly concerned about antisocial behaviour that the Executive's approach will focus not solely on tackling antisocial behaviour but on promoting good behaviour and providing opportunities for young people that show them a better life in the first instance. We will work towards promoting that good behaviour as firmly and determinedly as we will tackle antisocial behaviour after it has occurred.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative

What will the minister do to ensure the greater use of parenting orders, given that not one has been issued to date?

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Plainly, parenting orders have not been particularly successful thus far. In the course of the review, we will examine the enforcement measure to which Mr Lamont draws attention.

I hope that the Conservatives will continue to work with us in tackling antisocial behaviour, in promoting good behaviour and on emphasising the inculcation of a sense of personal responsibility in Scotland. In that respect, it is worth noting that the cabinet secretary recently visited a project in Govan where youngsters are provided the opportunity to play football. Evaluation showed that youth disorder fell by 76 per cent. Surely we can agree across the parties that that is exactly the sort of scheme that we want to be replicated throughout Scotland.