Relationships at risk with new Bill

18th June 2004 at 01:00
As the third stage of the Executive's Anti-Social Behaviour Bill reaches Parliament this week, it is important to recognise there is no doubt that the issue of anti-social behaviour is of concern in neighbourhoods across Scotland, and Barnardo's Scotland shares the desire to find appropriate responses to the issues.

As an organisation concerned with supporting children and young people, we are all too aware of the impact that problematic behaviour can have on communities, and that tackling it is of critical importance. It is more likely that young people will be victims of anti-social behaviour than other groups in society.

Barnardo's Scotland is pleased that ministers have taken on board the need to have a children's hearing before deciding whether an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) is required for a young person under 16 years old as this will allow all parties to take into account all circumstances of the young person. We have tried to take a constructive approach with the Scottish Executive and Scottish Parliament.

However, we remain sceptical as to whether specific measures proposed in the Bill will work in tackling anti-social behaviour in Scotland's communities. In particular, Barnardo's Scotland opposes the Scottish Executive's proposal to disperse groups, which will have no impact to tackle anti-social behaviour and could damage the fragile relations between young people and the police. Barnardo's Scotland is urging all MSPs to support the amendment to remove this power.

A joint event between Barnardo's Scotland and Age Concern concluded that better community policing and increased resources for young people is a better option rather than the confrontational approach of dispersing groups.

We believe it would be more constructive to have young people more involved in their communities rather than increasing the risks of alienating them.

Tam Baillie Assistant director of policy Barnardo's Scotland

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