Headlines: September 25th, 2003

The leaders of Scotland’s local councils will today debate ways of dealing with anti-social behaviour put forward by the Scottish Executive. Looking ahead to the meeting the councils have stressed their commitment to ridding Scotland’s communities of the problem.The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ response to “Putting our communities First – A Strategy for tackling anti social behaviour” will be formally discussed at its leaders meeting. In welcoming the Executive’s proposals COSLA is calling for a balanced two-pronged approach to tackling the problem and is pointing out that not all anti-social behaviour is carried out by young people or by individuals from traditionally deprived backgrounds.In advance of tomorrow’s meeting COSLA President Pat Watters said nobody was more committed to ridding communities of the scourge of anti-social behaviour than Scotland’s council leaders and other elected members. It was corrosive and was blighting not just urban areas but rural communities as well

Mr. Watters said only a relatively small group of young people, fewer than ten per cent, engaged in this type of behaviour. “They are largely known and they must be tackled but they must be tackled in a way that works,” he said.

He said councils needed to use both sanctions and intervention depending on the situation. The sanction had to be appropriate and not simply designed to look tough for the sake of it. “”We are talking about a complex set of social circumstances but on some occasions sanction must be the appropriate first step but on others it should be about building on examples of successful intervention currently operating,” he added.Mr. Watters said the message from councils which were members of COSLA was about changing people’s behaviour, not just dealing with the consequences of their actions.