Antisocial Behaviour Orders

Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 1st July 2010.

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Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour 2:15 pm, 1st July 2010

To ask the Scottish Executive how many antisocial behaviour orders were issued by courts in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. (S3O-11162)

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Statistics on the number of antisocial behaviour orders issued to adults and under-16s between October 2004 and March 2008, by local authority area, can be found on the Scottish Government website. However, we prefer to focus on the good preventive work being done by practitioners, which reduces the need for enforcement action after the event. For example, I am sure that the member will acknowledge, as I do, the good partnership working taking place to prevent alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour in Fife, which I saw first hand when I visited the Fife equally well project last October.

Photo of Helen Eadie Helen Eadie Labour

I am aware of such local initiatives. The Rosyth partnership is a further example. What measures does the minister propose to take to allay concerns about the lack of the use of antisocial behaviour orders in Fife, and in particular the west of Fife and the town of Rosyth? Members of the community council in Rosyth have relayed concerns to me about antisocial behaviour around homes that have lain empty for far too long, and antisocial behaviour is of increasing concern to local people.

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

Although antisocial behaviour orders are a mechanism that is open to a local authority to use where it considers it appropriate, we do not believe that the orders are the solution to the problem. In fact, I well recall that the previous Administration devoted £7 million over four years to junior antisocial behaviour orders. Only four ASBOs were issued over that period, which means that they cost well over £0.5 million each. We believe that that money would have been far better spent following the Scottish Government policy of using early intervention to prevent the reason for the antisocial behaviour occurring in the first place, whether that is alcohol, drugs or knives. We want to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

I am glad that the minister recognises that antisocial behaviour orders are not the silver bullet that they are portrayed to be by some. Will he therefore commend the new community safety unit in West Lothian as a sterling example of collaborative working, bringing together the police, the local authority and the West Lothian youth action project? The unit's activities are complemented by a £150,000 investment by the council in diversionary activities for young people on Friday afternoons after school and at weekends.

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I entirely agree with Angela Constance about the example she used. Surely it is better to divert youngsters from becoming involved in antisocial behaviour through programmes such as the one she mentions in West Lothian and others that operate throughout Scotland to help to turn around—as I believe is the meaning of the Latin from which "divert" derives—the behaviour of young people rather than issue them with an ASBO, which some of the hardened core are actually proud to receive.