Antisocial Behaviour on Buses

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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Ben Macpherson Ben Macpherson Scottish National Party

I, too, welcome this debate. The issue is a very serious one that we should be discussing together, building on an important debate a number of weeks ago on considerations around antisocial behaviour in our schools.

I recognise the problem from my casework and my engagement with Lothian Buses, which is headquartered in Annandale Street in my constituency. Members may be aware that I very often take buses and other public transport. That also applies to ScotRail services for longer trips out of the city. In recent months and years, I have seen antisocial behaviour on our buses and trains, including lots of noise; feet on seats; people eating food that has odours that are not pleasant to be around; people leaving litter; people listening to music or watching television on their mobile devices without headphones; people under the influence and behaving in a way that is not respectful to those around them; and intimidation of others.

Over that time, I have seen such behaviour from a lot of people over the age of 22. I make that point because, without discounting the concerns that we have collectively in our constituencies and regions about antisocial behaviour by a minority of young people, I think that, in our country, particularly post-pandemic, there is a wider consideration that we need to think about together. We need to think carefully about solutions and behaviour change with regard to antisocial behaviour more generally. Examples that involve a minority of young people on our public transport who on occasion engage in antisocial behaviour are reported, but we collectively, as a Parliament, need to focus on antisocial behaviour more widely, the concerning increase in that behaviour, and what solutions might make a difference.

If we are going to consider the potential removal or temporary suspension of entitlement to travel cards for young people, it would be right to do so only if that also applied to people of other ages who use our public transport and have entitlement. We cannot single out young people. Although we might want to think about those solutions and keep them under review, there are wider and deeper questions that we need to ask ourselves about support for our young people, ensuring that there is adequate youth work provision, helping our young people to engage in better behaviour, and how we engage role models and popular culture to help us to encourage young people to do what the majority of young people do, which is contribute positively to society and be respectful of those around them.

This is an important debate, but let us not single out our young people. Let us keep the matter under review and think carefully about how we can make a positive difference, and let us remember the good behaviour of the majority of young people.