The Outer Hebrides has a population of 26,500. The population is however in decline and has been for much of the 20 th Century. Government population estimates for the future show a projected decline of 15%, taking the population to around 22,400 by 2016.
Although 30% of the total population of the Outer Hebrides lives within the town of Stornoway or its immediately vicinity, the remaining population, some 18,500 people, is scattered throughout over 280 townships. There are 12 inhabited islands in the Western Isles chain, which extends some 210km in length and covers an area of 305,000ha.
Due to both the rural nature of the Outer Hebrides and the island geography there are specific challenges to finding ways of providing good quality, accessible and sustainable services to a sparse and geographically distributed population. Encouraging inward migration and investment, supporting local diversity and addressing the health and social needs of the population are some of the many tests for the Community Planning partners.
Antisocial Behaviour in the Outer Hebrides.
The Outer Hebrides has the reputation of being a safe and relatively crime free place to live. We are able to live without fear of having our houses broken into or having our cars stolen and we enjoy the benefits of having one of the lowest crime rates in Scotland.
However, it is essential that we do not become complacent. The most common crimes on the Islands are of an antisocial nature and we must therefore, work together to help preserve this safe environment. Keeping crime rates low is not only essential for ensuring the safety and comfort of those already in our communities, but also for promoting the Outer Hebrides as a safe place to live, for inward migration.
To place this in context, from April 2003 – March 2004, the Comhairle’s Housing Department, which has responsibility for 2113 housing tenancies (including housing associations), had just 20 cases, these cases were managed to resolution by early intervention. From March 2004 to March 2005, one ASBO was sought and obtained in the Western Isles.