Antisocial behaviour legislation could be discriminatory, group warns

Antisocial behaviour legislation in Scotland becoming friend or
foe to disabled people could go either way, Capability Scotland has
warned, writes Natalie Valios at Community Care Live in

Michelle Hegarty, director of communication at the disability
organisation, voiced concern that the definition of antisocial
behaviour could discriminate against people with disabilities. Some
may display challenging behaviour that others might view as
antisocial, such as autism or Tourette’s, and this could lead to
disabled children and adults being made the subject of antisocial
behaviour orders inappropriately.

Another worrying side to the antisocial agenda, said Hegarty, is
the guidance on noise management. This is a big problem for many
parents with disabled children who cannot control their
child¡¦s noise levels because of their disability, as it
is often viewed by neighbours as unreasonable noise. But giving
them a warning notice and a fixed penalty won’t work, she

When the noise is beyond their control it would be better to
change the physical environment where they are living, such as
having noise insulation, she said.  The guidance doesn’t recognise
behaviour that is intended antisocial behaviour and that which is

Hegarty flagged up a recent report from the Scottish
Executive¡¦s Hate Crime Working Group which revealed that
47 per cent of disabled people who were consulted had experienced
hate crime because of their disability; 73 per cent had experienced
verbal abuse or intimidation; and one in four had moved home
because of attacks.

Often those experiencing hate crime experience antisocial
behaviour, she said.

But there is no general offence of harassment in Scotland, and
police aren’t using common law to deal with harassment, she said.
This means that for now antisocial behaviour legislation may be the
best hope. It may fill a gap in protecting disabled people but
police need to be trained in how to use it. But the route cause
remains untackled.

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