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Prevent the scars

Enforcement measures provide temporary respite, but we must address the causes of bad behaviour

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The vast majority of Scotland’s communities are good places to live and work. However, I am all too aware that many continue to be blighted by crime and anti-social behaviour.

Such behaviour, although totally unacceptable, is often a symptom of deep-rooted problems such as lack of opportunity and the effects of drink, drugs and deprivation.

As well as providing the police with an all-time record number of officers and the resources to deal with the people who commit these crimes that cause such misery in our communities, we also want to address the underlying causes of such behaviour.

The new Framework for preventing anti-social behaviour in Scotland - published jointly with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities last month - will build on current ASB legislation but recognises that prevention and early and effective intervention need to be at the heart of our action to tackle anti-social behaviour.

We were clear throughout the review that enforcement measures such as ASBOs will not on their own deliver long-term solutions. They should continue to be one of the tools in the box, available for use by the police and local authorities.

They might provide a temporary plaster - and therefore some respite - but we need a longer-term solution. We need to prevent the scars in the first place. Social landlords are on the frontline when it comes to responding to complaints about neighbour nuisance and they have a key role to play in implementing the new framework. I was delighted to have input from social housing partners during the review: I personally met with the chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, and Bryan Healy of Glasgow Housing Association presented evidence at our good practice seminar last July and at the framework’s launch in March.

I am keen for social landlords to be involved in implementing our new approach and will invite an appropriate representative to join our implementation stakeholder group. There are key delivery issues of relevance to landlords, including partnership working and the commitment to a national review of housing allocation policy.

The new framework is aimed at promoting positive outcomes, preventing anti-social behaviour before it occurs, resolving such behaviour effectively when it does occur and helping agencies work together more effectively.

The problems besetting some of our communities cannot be turned around overnight. But by working together to promote positive outcomes and tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour we will improve the quality of life for everyone in our communities for the long-term and help Scotland to flourish.

Fergus Ewing is Scottish minister for community safety

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