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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 16:55 GMT
Unruly behaviour plans backed
Spray-paint
The plans aim to tackle wayward youngsters
Tough new measures to tackle anti-social behaviour have received backing from a committee of MSPs.

A report by Holyrood's communities committee endorsed the plans for parenting orders and electronically tagging of under 16-year-olds.

The committee also supports the move to give police new powers to break up youth gangs.

But it is unclear whether the latter would become law as police chiefs have questioned whether it is needed.

The bill also includes measures to give local authorities the power to implement a noise nuisance service for up to 24 hours, seven days a week, as well as a more effective regime to tackle littering and fly-tipping.

Committee convener Johann Lamont said: "The committee believes that while some communities are more affected by anti-social behaviour than others, there is a widespread and significant problem across many communities which needs to be addressed.

So how can it be just that the mother of a wayward youngster who lives in council housing will face eviction, while her next door neighbour, who owns her home, will face no such punishment?
Grainia Long
Shelter Scotland
"During our fact-finding visits to communities across Scotland and our formal scrutiny of the bill, we received evidence which supported the view that legislation is required to tackle this problem."

But housing charity Shelter Scotland called on MSPs to scrap the plans, claiming that the proposed measures feed the prejudice that it is only council tenants who are responsible for anti-social behaviour.

Its parliamentary and policy officer, Grainia Long, said: "We hear much about the importance of social justice in Scotland.

"So how can it be just that the mother of a wayward youngster who lives in council housing will face eviction, while her next door neighbour, who owns her home, will face no such punishment?"

The Scottish National Party's justice spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon MSP said: "Removing anti-social behaviour from the streets of Scotland is a major task.

"Communities across the country must have the right to live without the fear of anti-social behaviour and I hope that this bill will work towards achieving that.

'Intensive discussions'

But Ms Sturgeon warned that the executive must rethink issues such as the proposed dispersal powers which are to be handed to police forces.

Liberal Democrat committee member Donald Gorrie said his party would be pressing ministers to table amendments responding positively to the committee's report.

He said: "The Scottish Executive must involve children's panels more fully in anti-social behaviour orders and tagging.

"On dispersal of groups, the executive must have intensive discussions with the police to achieve a workable policy and must ensure that there is always effective community consultation about local problems, when pursuing dispersal."

Annabel Goldie MSP
Annabel Goldie accused the executive of "window dressing"

Various members of the committee dissented from specific recommendations in the report, whilst agreeing the general principles.

Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Annabel Goldie said the party supported the general principles of the bill.

But she said the Tories were uncomfortable with the proposals to disperse groups.

"We have emphatically opposed this power because it does not provide a solution, it simply moves the problem out of area b into area c," Ms Goldie said.

She accused the executive of "window dressing" and called for more visible community policing.


SEE ALSO:
Unruly behaviour move defended
28 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Call to back youth crime system
26 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Police warning over disorder plan
20 Jan 04  |  Scotland


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