The Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 provides the opportunity for Police and Local Authorities to deal with anti-social behaviour through civil rather than criminal proceedings. Guidance in respect of the Act is comprehensive and detailed, instructing Police and Local Authorities on procedures and criteria on each of the six areas requiring action under the Act.
“Putting Our Communities First – A Strategy for Dealing With Anti-Social Behaviour”, published by the Scottish Executive in 2003, detailed the need for placing antisocial behaviour within the overarching framework of Community Planning.
The Local Authority, being a key partner together with the Police in dealing with antisocial behaviour, is required to ensure the development of co-ordinated responses to incidents concerning antisocial behaviour throughout the Western Isles.
Outer Hebrides Strategy
The Outer Hebrides Antisocial Behaviour strategy aims to define the nature and extent of antisocial behaviour, detailing the services available, whilst setting out challenging strategic aims and objectives to both prevent and tackle the problem. The mapping of services through a multi-agency partnership approach, will provide evidence of the extent of the problem, including gaps in service provision, which will aid in ensuring the co-ordinated approach required to effectively tackle the problem.
The strategy will be built upon four main principles:
- Early Intervention
Antisocial behaviour affects all communities within the Outer Hebrides, with a number of key agencies having responsibilities towards ensuring it is dealt with appropriately. It is, therefore, clear that all agencies and all communities benefit from a true partnership approach towards tackling this problem. It is a key aim of the multi-agency group, established to support the development of this strategy, that emphasis and focus are placed on developing protocols and procedures for use by all agencies, for dealing with incidents of antisocial behaviour. This will ensure that the strategy remains relevant following publication, and will map progress over the following three years.
Local Authorities and Chief Constables have a legal responsibility, under the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004, towards the development, monitoring, and review of an antisocial behaviour strategy in their area. Whilst this demonstrates the accountability, the Scottish Executive were explicit in detailing the requirement on these agencies to consult widely and ensure a clear partnership approach with others, such as the Principal Reporter, Registered Social Landlords and the Voluntary Sector.
Antisocial behaviour is a priority nationally, with communities determined that something must be done to stop the behaviour of a few individuals, who can cause havoc in communities.
The Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004, which came into place on the 26th July 2004, has 13 Parts aimed at tackling all potential aspects of antisocial behaviour.
- Antisocial Behaviour Strategies
- Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBO’s)
- Dispersal of Groups
- Closure of Premises
- Noise Nuisance
- The Environment
- Housing: Antisocial Behaviour Notices
- Housing: Registration of Private landlords
- Parenting Orders
- Further Criminal Measures
- Fixed penalties
- Children’s Hearings
- Miscellaneous and General
These 13 parts provide guidance as to the range of actions available within Local Authority areas, but also ensure that agencies consider the range of support services and interventions available for both the victims of antisocial behaviour and the perpetrators.
The Antisocial Behaviour etc ( Scotland) Act 2004 defines antisocial behaviour as: ‘A person engages in antisocial behaviour if he/she acts in a manner that causes, or is likely to cause alarm or distress; or pursues a course of conduct that causes, or is likely to cause alarm or distress, to at least one person who is not of the same household as them. ‘Conduct’ includes speech and a ‘course of conduct’ must involve conduct on at least two occasions.’
Antisocial behaviour means different things to different people and agencies. It is therefore essential that a multi-agency approach be taken to examine and combat antisocial behaviour in the Outer Hebrides.
In order to ensure that all aspects of anti social behaviour prevalent in the islands are brought into the framework of this strategy and its associated operational measures the above definition will have added to it:-
Anti social behaviour includes action by others which unreasonably interferes with people’s rights to use and peacefully enjoy their homes and the environment of their community.
It is emphasised that both the Local Authority and the Police must deem behaviour as being unreasonable, and behaviour that is merely different will not be categorised as antisocial behaviour. In this respect, tolerance and awareness of other individuals or groups needs are an important aspect of tackling and understanding antisocial behaviour.
Behaviour that is a direct result of disability, or a medical or developmental condition is not considered to be antisocial behaviour.
The Scottish Executive has provided the Comhairle with funding for Antisocial Behaviour since 2003, through a variety of separate funding routes.
Under the strategic planning of the ‘Building Strong, Safe and Attractive Communities’ funding has been available for Community Wardens, Mediation services etc. The aim of this funding was to support, initially over three years, the delivery of practical support to ensure that incidents of antisocial behaviour are dealt with efficiently. Within the Outer Hebrides, this funding has been committed towards:
- 3 Community Wardens – Based in Uig/Bernera, Westside and Ness
- 2 Community Wardens – to be appointed for the Stornoway area
- Antisocial Behaviour Co-ordinator – to be appointed to cover the Western Isles
- Mediation Service and training – currently in development
The funding has recently been extended, providing further allocations to local authority areas to support areas to tackle antisocial behaviour. It is essential that this funding, which is dependant on the development of an Outcome Agreement that meets with Scottish Executive approval, and clearly links with the other smaller funding streams allocated under the heading of Antisocial Behaviour, such as Parenting Orders and Youth Justice.
All funding arrangements have and will be subject to, approval by the Comhairle. The Community Wellbeing Forum aspects of this funding, such as the Youth Justice Local Action Fund, have been subject to approval through the Community Planning Process. All future funding arrangements will be submitted to the Community Planning Partnership for approval.
Funding Provided By The Scottish Executive.
The outcome agreement for 2005-08, required by the Scottish Executive, details the funding allocations for the Outer Hebrides. Continuing with services that have been demonstrated to work is essential, developing new services to meet demand is required, and anticipating the future expectations within the community is expected. It is hoped that through partnership between the agencies and departments, this has been achieved.
The funding allocated to the Outer Hebrides by the Scottish Executive is:
2005/06 - £258,700
2006/07 - £225,000
2007/08 - £245,000