Professionals in Scotland shy away from antisocial behaviour measures

Scotland’s councils are largely ignoring flagship measures to combat antisocial behaviour, new figures reveal.

Only two antisocial behaviour orders have been issued to under-16s in Scotland since powers came into force last October.

No parenting orders have been handed out and just one curfew order for under-16s has been issued since the roll-out of those measures in April this year.

Social workers and youth justice professionals say they have little appetite for the measures, which are seen by some as an unnecessary addition to the children’s hearing system.

Ruth Stark, professional officer for the British Association of Social Workers Scotland, said the country already had a “perfectly adequate system already in place” and predicted that the legislation would continue to languish unused in the coming year as councils dealt with antisocial behaviour through existing channels.

But a spokesman for the Scottish executive said it was “manifestly untrue” that the measures were being ignored. He said the executive hoped the orders would be used “more effectively” and “more widely” but emphasised there were no plans to introduce targets for councils.

Eric Jackson, the lead on social work and health for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, acknowledged that councils had greeted the legislation with less enthusiasm than in England.
Although it was important that the measures had been put in place, he said there was a “general feeling” that there were “better ways” to deal with antisocial behaviour, particularly among young people.

“They are there to be used, but in the right circumstances,” he said, adding that there was no evidence that applications were being made for orders and then blocked.

“The feeling in Scotland is that we should not use them just because they are a response to the demands of the public or to politicians who want to see something concrete happening.”

Maggie Mellon, director of children’s and families services at charity Children 1st, said provisions for parenting orders were failing because “relationships are not amenable to orders”.

Justice minister Cathy Jamieson said Asbos were only one measure available to agencies. “Many commentators believe that tackling antisocial behaviour means placing more and more people on Asbos. Tackling antisocial behaviour is about more than issuing Asbos.”

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