The Scottish Executive Consultation Paper "Putting our communities
first: A Strategy for tackling Anti-social Behaviour"
The UNISON Scotland Response
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
We welcome the opportunity to respond to and
comment on the Scottish Executive's strategy for tackling anti-social
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
- Electronic monitoring for under 16's as an additional disposal
for the Children's Hearings system and the criminal justice
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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.
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
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