Scots executive urged to reconsider tagging policy in face of opposition

The Scottish executive has been urged to “concentrate on what
works” in tackling youth offending after figures showed councils
are failing to use powers to electronically tag young people,
writes Gordon Carson.

Only four young people have been tagged under the executive’s
intensive support and monitoring project, which has been piloted in
seven areas since April, compared to an estimate of 80 for the
first year of the pilot.

One of the four has ended up in secure accommodation after his
order was revoked, while another two have breached

Keith Simpson, head of service development at crime-reduction
charity Sacro, said tagging was not effective because it became an
“obstacle to overcome” or a “badge of pride” for young

And he said young people could be put at increased risk because
they would be unable to get away from dangerous situations.

He added: “We share the executive’s concern about reducing
offending and antisocial behaviour. But what’s required is more
human attention to young people’s needs and behaviour.”

The low figure for tagging prompted Scotland’s justice minister
Cathy Jamieson to warn that too many areas were “not making
sufficient progress in tackling persistent youth offending”.

She said that councils had to use their funding for intensive
support and monitoring, despite opposition from local government
leaders. And she warned that pilot areas that did not use their
funding for the intended purpose would be “failing to do everything
in their power to turn troubled lives around”.

Eric Jackson, social work spokesperson for the Convention of
Scottish Local Authorities, said tagging was appropriate for some
young people but not for others.

“If we put in intensive support we can turn these kids around and
it benefits their communities as well,” he added.

Councils in Scotland also continue not to issue antisocial
behaviour orders against under-16s, with none served since powers
were introduced in October 2004.

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