Antisocial Behaviour on Buses

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at on 14 December 2023.

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Photo of Alexander Burnett Alexander Burnett Conservative

As other members have said, many of us have heard about examples in our constituencies of young people travelling around to cause havoc under the Scottish Government’s free bus travel scheme for those aged under 22. I recognise, as my colleagues have, that we are talking about a minority of young people. We accept that the behaviour is not confined to young people, and we are looking to find remedies to manage the behaviour of a minority of people. We are not talking about the wider benefits for young people that the scheme has brought.

I wish to raise only one point; I recently wrote to the cabinet secretary detailing a recent incident at Deeside Rugby Football Club, in which I have long had an interest. A group of teenagers had travelled out from Aberdeen, taking advantage of the SNP’s free bus travel scheme, but with no productive or beneficial purpose in mind. They barged into the clubhouse, banged on the windows and threw insults at members. They moved on to other facilities in the area, including the church, and were clearly intent only on a trouble-making spree.

Due to social media trends, there is an increase in such behaviour, and a minority of young people are travelling simply to cause carnage in areas that they previously could not access. That is all happening at the same time as our rural communities are being disadvantaged by low police numbers and station closures. Police officers across the north-east are stretched thin enough and simply do not have the resources to respond to those vandals, who are out only to cause disruption and havoc.

I join my colleagues in asking the Scottish Government what repercussions it will put in place to deter the rising trend in antisocial behaviour by a small minority, and what it will do to support Police Scotland to keep our communities safe from that kind of behaviour.