Antisocial concerns remain despite fall

ANTISOCIAL behaviour remains a “concern” in the Borders, despite an 11 per cent drop in recorded incidents for the first six months of 2010.

There were 3,574 incidents from January to June this year, compared with 3,997 for the same period in 2009.

Other statistics in the Scottish Government’s antisocial behaviour framework annual report for the Borders show a five per cent rise in the number of multi-agency face-to-face warnings and a 43 per cent increase in the number of acceptable behaviour contracts made with people behaving in an antisocial manner.

New antisocial behaviour complaints were down 13 per cent from 170 to 148.

The safer communities team at Scottish Borders Council (SBC), which includes Lothian and Borders Police and SBC officers, were applauded for “effective prevention and early-intervention approaches to antisocial behaviour”.

But Christine Grahame, MSP for the South of Scotland, still believes antisocial behaviour is a worry for Borderers.

She told TheSouthern: “I think that despite the positive work being done to tackle antisocial behaviour it remains a concern for local people and we need to ensure that we don’t become complacent.

“It is evident that alcohol abuse is a factor in the incidents of antisocial behaviour we do see in the Borders. It is therefore important that we continue to examine all the options to break the link between excessive drinking and antisocial behaviour.

“I am happy to praise the work of police and officials in continuing to tackle antisocial behaviour where it does occur and urge residents to continue to report such incidents.”

The safer communities team has conducted a number of projects in tackling antisocial behaviour, including working with Crucial Crew, Safe T in the Park, Cashback for Communities and Face2Face in Galashiels.

Kerr Scott, antisocial behaviour team leader at SBC, said: “We are hugely encouraged that the decision to identify issues early and to make early interventions is having a positive effect in reducing the number of antisocial incidents within the region.”

Fergus Ewing, minister for community safety, praised the efforts of groups such as the Borders’ safer communities team, based at Newtown St Boswells.

Mr Ewing said: “This national framework report demonstrates how these principles are now being delivered by the fantastic work of dozens of local groups and agencies.

“We recognise different areas will have different priorities and I am pleased to see ideas such as participatory budgeting and alcohol intervention are being put to good use to meet those different needs.”

Ms Grahame has released the findings of her questionnaire. It received more than 1,600 replies and 65 per cent of respondents felt minimum alcohol pricing should be introduced.

The SNP MSP told constituents in a newsletter: “It (minimum pricing) will save 50 deaths a year and 1,200 fewer hospital admissions.

“It will make town centres safer and free police and ambulances to respond to real emergencies instead of scraping drunks off the pavements.”