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The Scottish Executive Consultation Paper "Putting our communities first: A Strategy for tackling Anti-social Behaviour"

The UNISON Scotland Response

September 2003

Executive Summary

UNISON Scotland recognises the widescale public concern over anti-social behaviour within our communities and agrees with the Executive that every person in Scotland deserves the right to live in peace and safety and the right to live in a community that is clean and well looked after.

Whilst there is much that UNISON Scotland can support in the document, especially in relation to the Executives proposals for building better communities and preventing anti-social behaviour, we believe overall there is a lack of emphasis on youth provision and too much emphasis on youth crime within the document.

We believe that the proposed Bill represents a shift in the Executive's approach to anti-social behaviour, away from social inclusion and towards a more punitive response. In doing so, UNISON Scotland believes that the Executive is in danger of neglecting the fact that better outcomes for children and young people are more regularly obtained by preventative measures.

UNISON Scotland recognises the positive impact that many of the Executives educational and regeneration initiatives have had on tackling the wider risk factors that can lead to anti-social behaviour. We believe that these initiatives must continue to be supported to allow them to continue making a difference for those who live in areas of disadvantage.

UNISON Scotland also believes that the Executive could demonstrate its commitment to supporting children and families and to reducing youth crime and anti-social behaviour by increasing base funding for children's services, including the provision of greater resources to serve Children's Hearings. We also believe that the Executive could take more effective action to help address staff recruitment and retention difficulties in many areas of children's services.

UNISON Scotland would also like to take this opportunity to voice its opposition to the proposed National Correctional Agency. We believe that the creation of yet another quango to deal with an area currently under local authority control is ill advised. We also believe that the proposed agency will be unable to deal effectively with the problems and causes of crime and that combining local social work services and the prison service will lead inevitably to the reduction of staffing levels in the interests of 'efficiency'.


UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing over 145,000 members working in the public sector. UNISON Scotland represents workers in local government social work services including criminal justice, home care and residential care workers. We also represent staff in the Children's Hearings system and youth workers throughout Scotland.

We welcome the opportunity to respond to and comment on the Scottish Executive's strategy for tackling anti-social behaviour.

This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response to the consultation document "Putting our communities first: A Strategy for tackling Anti-social Behaviour".


In June 2003 the Scottish Executive published their strategy for tackling anti-social behaviour Putting Our Communities First: A Strategy for Tackling Anti-social Behaviour for consultation. This consultation will be followed by the Anti-social Behaviour Bill, which is expected to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in the autumn. The Strategy identifies four themes under which the proposals are outlined:

Protecting and Empowering Communities

  • Community planning will be the overarching framework for tackling anti-social behaviour with the police and local authorities jointly publishing a strategy on how they will deal with anti-social behaviour in the authority area.
  • Increased emphasis on reparation through the introduction of Community Reparation Orders (CROs).
  • Building on existing measures to protect victims and witnesses of anti-social behaviour (e.g. victim support services, the witness service, the Vulnerable Witnesses Bill) and greater use of professional witnesses.

Preventing Anti-social Behaviour - Children and Families

  • Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) will be extended to be applicable to those aged 12 and above (they currently only apply to those aged 16 or over).
  • Encourage greater use of reparation in the Children's Hearings system.
  • Electronic monitoring for under 16's as an additional disposal for the Children's Hearings system and the criminal justice system.
  • The introduction of Parenting Orders requiring parents to undertake actions, which should result in a reduction in the offending or anti-social behaviour of their child.

Safe, Secure and Attractive Communities

  • The consultation document refers to proposals currently being consulted on by the UK Government to introduce Housing Benefit penalties in relation to anti-social behaviour.
  • The extension of the provision for landlords to convert a Scottish Secure Tenancy to a short Scottish Secure tenancy (giving the landlord an absolute right to possession at the end of the tenancy) to cases where an ASBO has been granted against a person under 16.

Effective Enforcement

  • Proposals to extend the range of offences for which Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) can be levied with the possibility of this applying to under 16s.
  • Proposals to give police a new power to disperse groups of children and young people under the age of 16 in public places.
  • Legislative changes to make ASBOs more effective.


Protecting and empowering communities

UNISON Scotland welcomes the proposal that local authorities and the police will have a duty to plan for how they will deal with anti-social behaviour. However, UNISON Scotland also believes that tackling anti-social behaviour cannot be the responsibility of these two agencies alone. It requires collective effort by local authorities, social services, schools, the police, environmental health officers, businesses and perhaps most importantly, those who reside within the effected communities themselves.

In addition, UNISON Scotland supports the proposal to extend the formal duty to participate in the preparation of anti-social behaviour strategies to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). We believe that RSLs, especially in those local authority areas where major stock transfer has taken place, have a duty and responsibility to engage with police and local authorities in the development and preparation of strategies to combat anti-social behaviour.

UNISON Scotland is supportive of the proposal to provide the courts with a measure, which will focus specifically on offenders making reparation in response to anti-social behaviour. As well as increasing public confidence in the criminal justice system, UNISON Scotland believes that Community Reparation Orders (CROs) can also provide opportunities for victims, offenders and the wider community to communicate and reach agreement on how to deal with incidents of anti-social behaviour.

UNISON Scotland believes that it is vitally important to create a climate in which people feel confident about reporting and giving evidence about anti-social behaviour. As such we welcome the Executive's funding commitment to support victims, witnesses and complainants in anti-social behaviour cases. We believe that this measure will give people the confidence and ability to stand up against anti-social behaviour in their communities.

UNISON Scotland believes that the Executive has to establish a more coherent strategy towards the introduction and establishment of community warden schemes in Scotland. Greater consideration has to be given to securing long-term funding for these schemes and to ensuring that wardens, who will be front line troops in tackling anti-social behaviour, are employed under appropriate terms and conditions.

UNISON Scotland believes that proposals to give wardens greater enforcement responsibilities may impact negatively on their credibility and effectiveness within the community. UNISON Scotland is currently consulting on this and other issues related to the establishment of community wardens and hope to publish our results in the very near future.

Preventing anti-social behaviour - children and families

UNISON Scotland is aware that the Children's Hearing System already has the powers to draw up agreements similar to the proposed Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) and that they have been used economically by local authorities up until now because of the lack of resources to implement such options. As such, UNISON Scotland believes that if, as proposed, ABCs are to be used more widely the Executive must ensure that adequate resources are placed at the disposal of local authorities.

However, UNISON Scotland believes that ABCs do have some merit as an instrument in addressing anti-social behaviour and we are supportive of their wider use. We believe that they have the ability to help children and young people understand what is socially acceptable behaviour.

UNISON Scotland has concerns over the proposal to extend Anti-Social Behaviour Orders to children under the age of 16. We believe that this proposal is both excessive and impractical and concentrates on punishment rather than on prevention.

UNISON Scotland believes that children should continue to be dealt with via the Children's hearing system and we believe that prohibitions that will come from the imposition of an ASBO could be written into the conditions of any supervision requirement.

Building safe, secure and attractive communities

UNISON Scotland has concerns over giving Community Wardens the power to issue Fixed Penalty Fines for incidences of environmental nuisance. We believe that by doing so the role and acceptance of wardens in the community may be compromised.

UNISON Scotland believes that Landlords in both the social rented and private rented sectors share with all citizens the responsibility to play their part in tackling anti-social behaviour.

We also believe that private landlords have a particular role in managing the tenancies from which they receive an income. As such we are supportive of proposals that will regulate the private sector rental market and require private landlords to take more effective action to end the anti-social behaviour of their tenants.

UNISON Scotland is also supportive of proposals that will establish schemes to reward law-abiding and responsible tenants. We believe this will encourage better tenant behaviour and contribute to creating communities where anti-social behaviour is not tolerated.

Effective enforcement

UNISON Scotland agrees that Fixed Penalty Notices can be an effective means of enforcing a sanction quickly while reducing court appearances. As such we are supportive of proposals that would extend the range of offences for which FPNs could be levied to include low-level anti-social and nuisance offences.

UNISON Scotland recognises that the presence of any group of young people can be seen as intimidating and contribute to a fear of crime. As such we are supportive of proposals that will ensure that the police have the power to

tackle intimidating groups which congregate intent on causing disorder or alarm.

However, we also believe that there is a balance to be struck and that young people are not stigmatised and potentially criminalised simply for gathering together.

For Further Information Please Contact:

Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX

Tel 0141-332 0006 Fax 0141 342 2835

e-mail matt.smith@unison.co.uk

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