Violence and Antisocial Behaviour (Glasgow)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 28 April 2022.

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Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Labour

7. To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to address the reported increase in levels of violence and antisocial behaviour in Glasgow city centre. (S6O-01020)

The Minister for Community Safety (Ash Regan):

Everyone has the right to be and to feel safe in their community. We are aware of reports that young people have been travelling to Glasgow to enjoy the city and connect with other young people; we also know that it is only a minority of young people who are carrying out acts of antisocial behaviour.

The police response will continue to be measured and intelligence led, but robust where appropriate, in order to protect the public and young people and to ensure that businesses and the wider community feel safe in the city centre. That response includes the deployment of anti-disorder patrols, which ensure that there is enough capability to respond to spontaneous incidents; the mobile police office, which provides a physical policing base; and mobile closed-circuit television vehicles, which capture evidence in real time. Local authority community enforcement officers support the police, and city centre exclusion orders can be used to place restrictions on offenders.

Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Labour

This week, I met Niven Rennie and Will Linden from the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit to discuss the on-going problems in the city centre of Glasgow. They were clear that the situation is complex, as described by the minister, but that the main driver of antisocial behaviour is children from across the central belt who have nothing to do in their local communities due to the closure of vital community centres and youth projects.

What analysis has the Government conducted to establish how many of those vital community assets have been closed due to continued local authority budget cuts? The Government has placed an emphasis on providing local authorities with Covid recovery grants. How much of that money is going to reopening those vital community assets? Finally, what work is the minister undertaking in conjunction with Police Scotland and Glasgow City Council to explore the possibility of establishing an OnSide youth zone in Glasgow? Those youth zones have been incredibly successful at reducing violence and antisocial behaviour in 18 English cities.

Ash Regan:

The member has asked a number of questions that I do not think I will be able to answer. I would be happy to meet with him if he wants to discuss more of that in detail.

The member correctly identifies that no single approach will solve the issue. He mentioned youth services. The allocation and planning of resources and services for young people is for local authority partners. However, I understand Mr Sweeney’s concerns and those of the residents of Glasgow about the recent antisocial behaviour in the city and behaviour that is harmful or offending. Such behaviour is unacceptable.

It is important to appreciate that young people have certain rights to associate with one another, whether that is in or outside their home communities. I will ask officials to work closely with leads from the national youth justice advisory group to identify whether there are any gaps in youth service provision. In Scotland, we have a strong focus on early and effective intervention and diversion. Glasgow City Council, the children’s reporter and other relevant agencies are already looking in depth at what they can do about the issue and to offer positive alternatives to antisocial behaviour for young people.

Photo of Russell Findlay Russell Findlay Conservative

Under the Scottish National Party, the streets of Glasgow have become dirty, depressing and dangerous. Will drugs tolerance zones lead to an increase or a decrease in crime on the city’s streets?

Ash Regan:

Sanitation is not one of the things for which I am personally responsible.

I will address the issues of crime and young people, youth justice and antisocial behaviour. The Scottish Government is increasing funding for the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. I am sure that the member will be well aware of many of the important and successful initiatives that have been carried out by that body. This year, we have increased funding for the unit by 14 per cent, or over £1 million, to deliver additional violence prevention activity in the area.

The member will also know that the Scottish Government has taken forward the successful whole-system approach to address the needs of young people who are involved in offending. That has contributed to a dramatic change in the way that youth justice is carried out in Scotland, and the number of under-18s who are sentenced has decreased by 93 per cent.