Are we too soft on Anti-Social Behaviour in Scotland?
Comments would be appreciated from other countries.
One of the current Social Policies being initiated and followed by Local Councils towards recidivist Class-A Drug users and Criminals to 'help them reintegrate into mainstream society' is to house them in 'Council or Social Housing'. In the town of Arbroath, for instance, council or social housing is often mixed.
This results in former prison inmates, drug users and dealers, criminals and violent and aggressive people of both genders being relocated into these areas where they can and do intimidate members of the local community.
These local neighbourhood communities are mixed, retired people, many of whom live on their own, single working people, male and female of all ages and families with pre-school, and young people at both primary and secondary schools as well as colleges.
Most of those involved in criminal and drug related activities have not interest or motivation to re-integrate into so called mainstream society, they are content to receive large amounts of benefits and carry on with their 'normal activities'.
Whilst they are carrying on with usual behaviour, they make their neighbours life a living misery. Almost everyone of these criminals and drug users have satellite TV, ( often at unacceptable levers of noise until the early hours of the morning (4-5 am).
Most stay in bed, either all day or until mid-afternoon, or go out to get their daily methadone or sign on to claim their benefits. Voluntary search for employment is minimal. at the same time, people with physical disabilities and special or complex learning needs are being sanctioned and are having their benefits cut and or stopped entirely. These criminal and drug using members of society often have large families in order to be able to claim more benefits and larger houses.
New electrical household goods are in abundance, there maybe bare floorboards, but satellite T.V. takes precedence. (Electric and gas meters are often doctored to reduce 'bills'). All this paid for by the local and national authorities and government (Scottish and UK). They have no interest in training, education or employment, unless it is 'forced' upon them with the advice that if they do not take part in such activities, benefits can and will be cut. Scotland has one of the highest levels of illiteracy and in-numeracy with an equally high proportion of people without any vocational training in Europe. Obviously?, most of the drug users and criminal fall within this section of society. very little attempt is being made to rectify this appalling situation.
The MRT (Methadone Replacement Therapy) programme is not working and is costing over £15 million a year. Many of this section of the local populace are moved from Dundee into the 5 towns of Angus, Arbroath, Montrose, Forfar, Brechin and Kirriemuir.
They are given priority in council or social housing lists (there are over 4,000 people in Angus on the housing waiting lists).
Although now closed, outside the main street in Arbroath, the local Sherriff Court, was the scene of drug trafficking and threating behaviour, yet little or nothing was done by the police or private security companies. They congregated outside the Courthouse in large numbers intimidating elderly people and other people. Again nothing was done to prevent this behaviour. Other drug related activities take place openly around the town. Taxis are used to transport addicts and users to 'dealers'. the drivers know who is using and who is dealing. Many are unwilling to inform the police because of the threat of retaliation and physical harm against themselves and or their families and property.
Despite verbal and written complaints on Anti-Social Behaviour, the local council is very reluctant to take any form of action. Instead, complainants are referred from one department to another and given meaningless platitudes ,such as: ".. It is their lifestyle choice.... and.... they've had a hard life..." When asked if they would accept such behaviour from 'their' neighbours, no answer is given.
Both the Community Safety/ Joint Services Teams as well as the Housing Department are reluctant to take any action. This is despite, damage to their own property as well as other tenants of council or housing associations property. Police have, on occasions, had to force entry in flats and houses, yet no sanctions are taken and doors etc, are replaced by the local council at no cost to those responsible. Again no or little action is taken by the local authorities. Repairs are paid for by local tax payers. Local infrastructure projects are being cut, delayed, or abandoned. Council staff are being made redundant due to a lack of money.
All that seems to happen is that the people responsible for this state of affairs are given Community Service/ Payback Orders or Ant-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO). If these are broken, (by non-attendance or breech of said order), which is frequent, the only penalty is for the 'orders' time penalty to be increased.
An ASBO is often seen as a 'badge of honour' and laughed at. Many local residents have grown apathetic about complaining about this state of affairs because nothing is ever done. This seems to be a deliberate 'sub-plot' to Council Policies. Ignore it and it will go away. This would also seem to be the attitude of local politicians.
Some believe that 'Class A and Class B drugs should be supplied and or sold by the Government'. The thinking behind this is that the purity and quantity could be monitored, thus saving lives through contaminated drugs and overdoses.
As can be expected, this possible strategy is high controversial. To say the least!
Other local residents, are becoming extreme in their alternative attitudes in the dealing with these issues. Although, perhaps, half jokingly, but none the less worrying, this can range from putting them on a North Sea trawler and then sinking it out at sea, relocating them on an uninhabited island and letting them get on with 'their lifestyle choice', imprisoning them, 'cold turkey' no (MRT), Concentration Camps or simply shooting them.
The Scottish Parliament's 'misguided' policy, often though out by middle class, over paid, do- gooder theorists ( who have no concept of what the mainstream populace has to put up with). It seems likely that this ineffectual social policy will continue, no matter what the result of the Independence Referendum next month.
The Scottish people are being asked to vote on a larger political issue, but are not being asked, or even informed, of what shape or change is to be given to the ever growing social problems through drug use and criminal behaviour. The death rate from drug use, both illegal and from so called 'legal highs' is growing, drug related murders are on the increase, yet the people are not given a choice in the range of possible policies to deal with these issues which are tearing the local (and national) communities apart.
Should we become more 'extremist' in our attitude in dealing with these issues?
Or devise a 'workable' and more efficient policy(ies) in dealing with this ever growing problem.
Almost every nation in the world is facing the same issues on the effects of drugs in and on their society. Is it a problem here to stay and we should just turn a blind eye to it?
I'm unsure whether anybody will reply to this, but I would be very interested to hear other people's viewpoints and opinions.