A leading Scottish children’s charity has warned that a
consultation document launched last week by ministers outlining a
strategy for dealing with anti-social behaviour will have limited
impact, as it does nothing to address the root causes of youth
crime, writes Clare Jerrom.
Aberlour Child Care Trust is concerned that the
“punitive” measures outlined in the strategy focuses on
the under-16s yet does nothing to address issues often underlying
anti-social behaviour, such as family disruption, learning
difficulties, low educational attainment, mental health problems
and substance misuse.
“Coming out with solutions like tagging and anti-social
behaviour orders will do nothing to address the complex underlying
factors associated with young people’s anti-social
behaviour,” said Kelly Bayes, head of policy.
The strategy focuses on measures to cope with children acting in
an anti-social manner and parents who are failing to cope with
their children’s behaviour. It includes a greater use of
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and extending the use of Antisocial
Behaviour Orders to children aged between 12 and 15.
The strategy proposes strengthening the range of options
available to Children’s Hearings for dealing with cases of
anti-social behaviour, including a greater use of reparation. It
also suggests using electronic monitoring for children being dealt
with in the Children’s Hearings system and the criminal
Fixed Penalty Notices may be introduced and police may be given
powers to disperse groups of young people where anti-social
behaviour is a persistent problem. Parents of anti-social children
may also face parenting orders.
However, Bayes raised concerns over how the implementation of
parenting orders would be overseen given the current shortage of
social work staff. “The system is currently failing to cope
with the formal supervision orders issued by the Children’s
Hearing Panel so we think serious consideration needs to be given
as to who will be able to undertake the work required by these
Scottish ministers will consult widely on the antisocial
behaviour plans ahead of detailed legislation in the autumn.
– Consultation from www.scotland.gov.uk/publications/recent.aspx