Asbos fallen from favour in Scotland, figures show

JUST eight Asbos were imposed in Edinburgh last year, despite thousands of complaints about antisocial behaviour, new figures have revealed.

The figures, released under Freedom of Information laws, sparked claims there was "scepticism" about how well Asbos worked in Scotland, with sheriffs "wary" of using them.

Across Scotland, 219,689 complaints were made in the same period but just 249 Asbos were approved by the courts.

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The fall in the number of Asbos used in the capital came despite the number of antisocial complaints remaining at a similar level. There were 3,839 complaints during 2009-10 in Edinburgh, compared with 3,958 the previous year.

Dr Liz Campbell, a criminologist and law lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, said anti- social behaviour orders tended to be used less in Scotland.

She said: "The interesting things is that Scotland was probably never really in love with Asbos, which seem to be more common in England.

"Antisocial behaviour in Scotland, which can often involve children, is usually dealt with in a more holistic way, such as the system of children's hearings.

"When it comes to adults, cases often tend to be dealt with in courts, which from the point of view of a lawyer is fairer.

"There has been some research that suggests that sheriffs are wary of approving Asbos and that there is scepticism about whether they work.

"Even though there seems to have been a decline in the number of Asbos in Scotland, to a certain extent they never really got off the ground here."

However, Dr Campbell said she sympathised with allowing community councils, residents or tenants groups to force councils to pursue an Asbo.

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She said: "Without wanting to speak in favour of it, I can sympathise with why community groups would want to have these powers, as they might view it as being quicker and an instant reaction to a problem."

Labour's community safety spokesman James Kelly had called on the Scottish Government to give powers to community groups to pursue Asbos.

He said: "Too many people in Edinburgh are being left to suffer antisocial behaviour, and it's time that more was done to tackle those who make other people's lives a misery."

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "Applications for antisocial behaviour orders are a matter for local agencies.

"However, crime in Scotland has fallen to a near 30-year low as the Scottish Government has delivered an all-time record number of police officers.

"Asbos will continue in Scotland and we believe they have a role to play as one of a range of available measures."