Glasgow Council and its partners have continued to resist pressure from the Scottish executive to make greater use of antisocial behaviour orders, which began after the first minister’s fact-finding trip to Manchester, the “Asbo capital” of England.
Jim Coleman, deputy leader of Glasgow Council and chair of Glasgow Community and Safety Services, believes Asbos have a role to play, but should only be used as a last resort.
Glasgow Community and Safety Servicewas set up as a separate company last year by the council and other partners to take over responsibility for tackling antisocial behaviour across the city. Board members include councillors, health board members, and representatives from the police and the local voluntary sector.
“There are various components to our work,” Coleman says.
“There is an enforcement side and an education side, and Asbos are part of that. But there are lots of practices that intervene before we reach the Asbo stage, such as acceptable behaviour contracts and our restorative justice programme. We have only had to use a handful of Asbos where we have tried other interventions first but haven’t been able to get through.”
The first stage employed by the arms-length company is a door knocking exercise conducted by police officers and community relations officers. They visit the homes of all young people identified in CCTV footage or by street wardens as having been involved in antisocial behaviour.
“They warn parents that if this continues, they will be back and will up the ante. In 90 per cent of cases, that is all that is required.”
Coleman says that often there are family issues underlying a child’s antisocial behaviour that need to be addressed.
“It might be that we are dealing with a young person at the acceptable behaviour contract stage and discover that they are living with an alcoholic father and not getting any services. We can bring in those services.
“What you normally find is that for some local authorities with a tremendous record on delivering Asbos, that is all they do. The difference with us is that we have a whole range of support options, and diverse programmes.
“If someone questions how many Asbos we have used, I ask them how many young people they have put through restorative justice. We have put about 4,000 young people through, with a 5 or 6 per cent re-offending rate. They may have dished out 60 Asbos, but do they know what happened to those 60 families?
“Glasgow’s the only place in Scotland with a fully comprehensive approach to dealing with antisocial behaviour. We are not just dealing with enforcement, but with the reasons behind it and with trying to make sure it won’t happen again.”