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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 15:40 GMT
Police warning over disorder plan
Teenagers
The executive is targeting anti-social behaviour
Police in Scotland have warned the Scottish Executive that it has underestimated the cost of one of its anti-social behaviour policies.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) said powers to disperse groups in trouble spots could cost 2.2m to implement.

But the executive said it had not decided on a final funding figure.

It launched its Anti-Social Behaviour Bill last October and said it would create a safer Scotland.

The bill aims to force parents to take responsibility for their offspring and extend electronic tagging to under-16s.

It also aims to give police new powers to disperse groups.

The executive's anti-social behaviour spokesman, Alistair McIntosh, said the figure quoted by the police was "misleading".

This seems to me to be the first recorded case where a flagship has hit the rocks before it has even left the harbour
SNP MSP Fergus Ewing
Colleague Bill Barron said its plans would actually save the police money as a result of less police work in giving evidence in courts.

"So Acpos' submission is a bit of a first shot which has missed some fairly fundamental points," he said.

MSPs on the Finance Committee are questioning officials on the funding required for the bill.

Mr McIntosh told the committee: "There are some uncertainties around the precise figures but a lot depends on the uptake and overall we are comfortable that the estimates we have produced in relation to legal aid are reasonable ones."

'Decisive shift'

Communities Minister Margaret Curran has defended the plans and said the executive was planning "a decisive shift" in how the justice system operates.

Scottish National Party MSP Fergus Ewing said: "I heard this described on the radio this morning as the executive's flagship bill.

"This seems to me to be the first recorded case where a flagship has hit the rocks before it has even left the harbour."

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations has claimed inadequate funding could seriously compromise the effectiveness of the new laws.

'Out of touch'

Lawyers are opposed to extending electronic tagging and warn dispersal plans may breach human rights laws.

First Minister Jack McConnell rounded on a police union leader when he criticised the anti-social behaviour drive.

Doug Keil, of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), said the powers to disperse groups were not needed.

Mr Keil said every police officer he had spoken to believed there was sufficient powers but not enough time or resources.

The first minister argued otherwise and claimed the union leader was "out of touch" with his members.


SEE ALSO:
Autism fears over disorder bill
14 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Police union leader 'out of touch'
07 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Lawyers' fears over disorder bill
13 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Bill aims for safer Scotland
30 Oct 03  |  Scotland


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