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Voice of Scotland.

Anti-social behaviour seems to be permanently in the news, as do Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. Here, Neil Carnegie, anti-social behaviour strategy officer for Aberdeen City Council, discusses the issues

ANTI-SOCIAL behaviour is any activity which is likely to cause alarm or distress to someone else That can be anything from noisy neighbours and dog fouling, to far more serious issues. And the main message we want to give to people is you don't have to suffer in silence.

In recent years there has been a lot of attention drawn to anti-social behaviour and the problems it causes within communities, but I would like to make it clear that times have changed.

Problems which in days gone by we may not have been able to solve, can now be easily dealt with through a range of new powers, services and resources we have at our disposal. And although it is Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) which are always making the headlines, it is important that people realise most of the problems brought to us are dealt with in a range of other ways.

ASBOs are only one of a range of tools we have in our toolbox.

People can report anti-social behaviour to their council - most local authorities now have departments and helplines to deal with just such calls.

Alternatively, they can turn to the police, Crimestoppers or local community wardens. From that point onwards all relevant authorities, from the police and councils to victim support services, work with each other to get to the bottom of the dilemma.

First of all full details of the complaint will be taken. Advice will then be offered to the victim while a full investigation is instigated in order to determine the right kind of action to take.

This could be a discussion with the parties the complaint has been lodged against, the introduction of mediation services or the drawing up of an acceptable behavioural contract. We also look into the needs of the person against whom the complaint has been made to see if we can offer them support as it is vital to address the root causes of the problem. But our priority is to stop the anti-social behaviour and protect the victim.

ASBOs aren't usually the first option but they can be used if the behaviour is serious. We always aim to use the most appropriate option available.

Once that has happened the matter would be taken to court where a sheriff would have to be convinced that this is what is needed to protect the victim from further upset. If the order is awarded, it places the person under restrictions so they don't repeat the behaviour and there could also be conditions placed on where they are allowed to go.

If the person placed under an ASBO then breaks those restrictions, he or she will then, and only then, be committing a criminal offence

For more information, help or advice on anti-social behaviour visit www.antisocialbehaviourscotland.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 2, 2005
Words:495
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