Antisocial behaviour unit targets persistent offenders

Picture (posed by models): TSPL
Picture (posed by models): TSPL
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A CRACK team has been handed a mission of tackling yobs who cause chaos in city communities.

Although rates of antisocial behaviour have dropped across the Capital in recent years, council chiefs have admitted that persistent offenders have continued to blight some areas.

In response, they are to introduce an antisocial behaviour unit, which will meet weekly, target repeat offenders and review complex cases.

The new expert panel will include police and council officers, solicitors, addiction experts and criminal justice system representatives.

They will be able to call on the expertise of the council’s noise team, social workers, community protection managers and housing officials.

Ricky Henderson, convenor of the council’s health, wellbeing and housing committee, said: “When members of the public suffer from antisocial behaviour it can really grind them down. It might be low-level, but when it’s persistent it has a real impact on people’s lives and has to be tackled.

“Overall, antisocial behaviour is on the decline and we welcome that. We have made good progress but we can’t be complacent. There are still problems and it tends to be persistent offenders with complex issues. These cases might benefit from added expertise and more focussed attention.”

The team will review outstanding legal wrangles around antisocial behaviour, cases that are set to result in an eviction or Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBO) and those which have remained open in the Edinburgh area for nine months or more. There are currently 54 such cases in the city.

The initiative is part of the council’s new antisocial behaviour strategy, which will remain in place until 2016.

In the past four years, the number of complaints of antisocial behaviour to the council has dropped by more than 45 per cent – but on 2012-13, on average there were still six grievances raised every day.

According to the council’s most recent survey, 88 per cent of residents say they feel safe after dark – a rise of 12 per cent compared to five years ago.

An evaluation of the new antisocial behaviour review unit will be given to councillors in six months.

Superintendent Matt Richards, of Police Scotland, said that antisocial behaviour would continue to be dealt with locally, despite the creation of the new national police force.

He said: “Edinburgh continues to see reduced rates of antisocial behaviour, and this is in no small part due to the co-production of tactics with the communities that we serve.

“As policing takes on a new national context with the creation of a single force, plans like the antisocial behaviour strategy will ensure local officers and partners are dealing with local challenges alongside local communities.”