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20 August 2006

Repeat orders show Asbos ‘aren’t working’ - Sunday Herald

by Liam McDougall and Kirsty Taylor, The Sunday Herald

THE Scottish Executive came under fierce attack last night over the number of repeat antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos) given to offenders, more than half of which have been issued in the First Minister’s own constituency.

The first survey of multiple Asbos has revealed at least 22 Scots have received repeat orders for refusing to stop their disruptive behaviour.

In North Lanarkshire, where Jack McConnell has his Motherwell and Wishaw constituency, 12 people have had 25 Asbos served on them. Almost one in every 10 Asbos granted in the area (13 out of 158) is a repeat order.

The controversial measure – in operation since April 1999 – was introduced to bring an end to violence and public disorder. McConnell has also hailed Asbos as a key weapon against young vandals and thugs wreaking havoc in communities. In 2004, he extended the use of the order to under 16s.

But last night, in the wake of the new figures, McConnell was facing accusations that the number of repeat orders indicated a “failing” policy that did nothing to deter antisocial behaviour.

Stewart Stevenson, SNP deputy justice spokesman, said: “Asbos are neither an attempt to engage with people who are causing problems in the community, nor are they an adequate punishment. If people are receiving multiple Asbos, it is a clear sign that Asbos are not working. ”

In all, eight Scottish local authorities have issued repeated antisocial behaviour orders. Aberdeen City Council admitted it had an individual who had received two orders at the same time. South Lanarkshire, Fife and West Lothian all had one person who had been given two Asbos.

Clackmannanshire Council said William Watson, evicted from his home in Alva earlier this year for constant noise, had received two Asbos. Scottish Borders Council had two tenants with repeat Asbos, including 58-year-old Robert Pupkis from Peebles who was given repeat orders for continually rowing with his wife Margaret, who also has an Asbo .

Dumfries and Galloway Council confirmed it had issued repeat orders . North Lanarkshire Council revealed it has taken out 25 orders, including three against a 31-year-old female . Of the 12 given multiple Asbos in the area, eight were female.

And nine of the 12 given repeated Asbos were aged 25 or older. All 12 received the Asbos for “harassment”, “noise” or “loud music”. The age of the offenders and nature of their behaviour raised concerns the underlying problems of offenders were not being addressed.

Jane Donoghue, a researcher on Asbos at Stirling University, said: “Addiction, mental health problems and learning difficulties frequently feature in Asbo cases, but the primary – and often the only – focus is on the effect of the perpetrator’s behaviour. ”

Andrew Mackie, a spokesman for Asbo Concern, said: “Unless you address the underlying causes of the behaviour you are wasting your time.”

Margaret Mitchell, Tory justice spokeswoman, said the figures on repeat Asbos showed the Executive was failing to tackle youth disorder .

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: “Ordinary members of the public have made clear that they want to see antisocial behaviour tackled. We have listened to them and delivered real action that shows we are on their side – and we make no apology for that.”

The figures on repeat Asbos come after McConnell voiced his “absolute dismay” at the police and local authorities that only four Asbos have been served on unruly under 16s.
Categories [Justice]
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Reproduced with permission from The Herald (Glasgow) © Newsquest (Herald & Times) Ltd

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