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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 09:03 GMT
Lawyers' fears over disorder bill
Lawyers are not in favour of tagging children
Scotland's lawyers are raising serious doubts about ministers' plans to crack down on youth offending.

The Law Society of Scotland will question the Scottish Executive's Anti-Social Behaviour Bill before a committee of MSPs on Tuesday.

The lawyers are opposed to electronic tagging of children and argue that the police already have powers to disperse gangs of youths.

The executive said it was taking steps which are wanted by communities.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Bill contains a wide range of measures, tackling issues such as vandalism, noise and fly-tipping.

However, the moves targeted at young offenders have provoked the most controversy.

We think there is a risk that one particular aspect of the powers goes beyond what is absolutely necessary and may be challengeable under the European Convention on Human Rights
Michael Clancy
Law Society of Scotland
The proposals include the extension of anti-social behaviour orders and electronic tagging to the under-16s, as well as new police powers to disperse groups of people in trouble spots.

Aspects of the plans have already been questioned by the police, children's charities and Labour's coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats.

The Holyrood justice committee, which is taking evidence on the bill, is set to hear from the Law Society.

Lawyers are "not in favour" of electronically tagging children.

They fear that the step would offer confinement without tackling offending behaviour, a concern which also applies tolpans for restriction of liberty orders for under-16s.

The Law Society has also said it is "not convinced" that it is a good idea to shift the emphasis towards punishing parents through parenting orders.

Young offenders' institution
The bill was unveiled last year
The society suggests that "well-resourced children's hearings" might be best placed to deal with delinquency rather than extending anti-social behaviour orders to under-16s.

And on dispersal, it argues that police are already able to deal with "annoying, offensive and obstructive" behaviour.

Michael Clancy of the Law Society said: "The police have a broad range of powers to control anti-social behaviour by groups and individuals.

"We think there is a risk that one particular aspect of the powers goes beyond what is absolutely necessary and may be challengeable under the European Convention on Human Rights."

Doug Keil ,of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), told MSPs last week that these new powers were not needed.

His intervention prompted an attack from First Minister Jack McConnell, who claimed that the union leader was "out of touch" with his members.

Lib Dems question disorder bill
11 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Police union leader 'out of touch'
07 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Disorder bill's proposals queried
06 Jan 04  |  Scotland
McConnell denies 'demonising' youth
08 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Warning over youth crime measures
14 Aug 03  |  Scotland

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