Antisocial Behaviour

– in the Scottish Parliament on 16th December 2020.

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Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

3. To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the report, “The Picture of Anti-Social Behaviour in Scotland”. (S5O-04851)

Photo of Ash Denham Ash Denham Scottish National Party

We welcome the report, and particularly its findings that levels of antisocial behaviour have decreased over the past 10 years and that the public have noticed that decline in their areas. In addition, the member will be pleased to note that Police Scotland has confirmed that the number of calls about the antisocial use of motorbikes in Fife has fallen from 891 in 2018 to 354 in 2019, and that the number of reports over the same period this year has dropped further still, to 217.

The report confirms that we are on the right track but also that we need to go further in addressing the links between antisocial behaviour and deprivation and in addressing stereotypical perceptions about those who engage in antisocial behaviour. Those considerations will continue to be central to our approach as we work with partners to reduce antisocial behaviour in all areas of Scotland.

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

I recognise the important contribution of the Scottish

Community Safety Network, but I was disappointed not to see a direct reference in the report to antisocial behaviour on motorbikes, as the minister has mentioned my interest in it. That would appear to be because of the way in which the behavioural charges are recorded. The minister will recognise that I have campaigned on that issue for many years, and I am frustrated by the lack of a national approach to addressing that behaviour. Will she commit to recognising the impact of illegal quad and off-road bike use in our communities? Notwithstanding the proactive approach that Fife has taken through local police, it is an on-going issue. Will she ensure that the investment that is needed to tackle it is made available?

Photo of Ash Denham Ash Denham Scottish National Party

I agree with much of the gist of the member’s question. There has been quite a degree of success in Fife with the delivery of the Levenmouth together programme. I have written to the member on that, and my officials have shared examples of the good practice in tackling the illegal use of quad bikes—which we had gathered from local authorities and which included a case summary of the improving Levenmouth together project—with all local authorities, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the antisocial behaviour officers forum, the antisocial behaviour lawyers forum and the Scottish Community Safety Network.

Although I accept that the problem that the member recognises is substantial in her area at times, from the research that my officials have done in writing to all the local authorities, it seems that it is not shared across all local authorities. However, I would be happy to listen to anything more that the member wishes to raise on the issue. I am always happy to see whether there is more that we can do to tackle that kind of antisocial behaviour.

Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

The minister seems rather unaware that the incidence of antisocial behaviour this year is at the highest level since Police Scotland started recording statistics. That suggests that the Scottish National Party does not have any answers for tackling the issue.

Can she confirm when she last had any discussions with the chief constable specifically about how to combat the issue, and can she say what solutions were discussed?

Photo of Ash Denham Ash Denham Scottish National Party

In 2017-18, 29 per cent of adults thought that antisocial behaviour was common in their area. That is down from 46 per cent in 2009-10. The Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 provides a wide range of measures for dealing with all forms of antisocial behaviour, and our national strategy is based on prevention, early intervention and diversionary activities. We believe that a range of powers is already available to authorities to allow them to deal effectively with antisocial behaviour, regardless of the circumstances in which it appears.

The Scottish Government has not been approached by Police Scotland, local authorities or support services to seek changes to legislation in relation to that issue. However, if approaches were made to me, I can confirm to the member that I would be very happy to look at the evidence for making any changes that are necessary.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Before I move on, I say gently to the cabinet secretary and ministers that the answers are taking far too long. Unless they speed up, members will be disadvantaged by that.