This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Amendment to Criminal Justice Bill
The Executive is to support a package of measures in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill designed to curb the behaviour of 'neighbours from hell', it was announced today.
In particular, Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry told the Safer Communities Scotland conference in Dumbarton, steps are being taken to improve Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) by bringing forward an amendment to the Bill later this week.
Interim ASBOs are being introduced to provide more immediate protection from anti-social behaviour, to take effect pending the substantive application for an ASBO.
Mr Henry explained that the Executive intends to extend the power to apply for ASBOs and interim ASBOs to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), including housing associations.
This will make it easier for RSLs to obtain ASBOs and prevent further anti-social conduct in and around their properties.
The Executive intends to support a new duty to oblige the police and councils to exchange information and work together to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Local authorities and the police will prepare a strategy, to be made public, for dealing with anti-social behaviour.
Speaking to an audience of residents, community groups, police and representatives from West Dunbartonshire council, Mr Henry said:
"Anti-Social Behaviour Orders are essential to our vision of making communities safer. Ongoing, persistent anti-social behaviour, which reduces the quality of life and causes distress in our communities, is not acceptable.
"I know how much disruptive neighbours can affect people's lives. It is a fundamental right for people to feel safe in their homes and walk the streets without fear. Interim ASBOs will send out a powerful message that we will not tolerate irresponsible and unacceptable behaviour.
"Some local authorities have experienced delays in the system, which can undermine the effectiveness of ASBOs. We have taken on board these concerns. We are now responding by introducing interim ASBOs to allow full criminal sanctions while a final application is waiting to be heard. This should give decent people peace of mind without anti-social neighbours using the legal process to delay action."
ASBOs came into force in April 1999. Interim ASBOs will allow for the full range of sanctions to be available to a court ranging from a fine to up to five years in prison. Local authorities, in consultation with the police, can apply to the sheriff court.
Mr Henry continued:
"ASBOs have been a success and we want to build on that. For the first time, ASBOs will be available to Registered Social Landlords. (RSLs).
"This is great news for those in that sector. For Glasgow, this will mean that, following the historic stock transfer of over 80,000 council homes to Glasgow Housing Association, more 'neighbours from hell' can be pursued.
"We are building on the package of measures which are already addressing local concerns, such as probationary tenancies and the suspension of the right to buy, neighbourhood wardens and our work on youth crime. Together, these measures will send out the clear message that unacceptable behaviour in our communities will not be tolerated.
"ASBOs form part of our strategy to build safer, stronger communities, and by introducing interim ASBOs and extending the power to apply for ASBOS to RSLs, Parliament can cast its vote to improve community safety in Scotland."
RSLs will be able to ask for ASBOs against not only their own tenants, but also for other people in the vicinity whose behaviour will impact on RSL tenants.
The Scottish Parliament will debate stage three of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill on Wednesday and Thursday this week.