SNP Raises the White Flag over Anti-Social Behaviour; Executive Ready to Abandon Use of 'Junior Asbos' for Young Thugs

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Byline: Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

THE SNP is preparing to end the use of Labour's flagship Asbos for young thugs - and keep them only as a 'tool of last resort' for adults.

The Scottish Executive will order councils to turn away from Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, Tony Blair's number one weapon against youth crime.

They were aimed at banning teen yobs from the areas they terrorise and, for adults, tackling the scourge of neighbours from hell.

Today the Scottish Executive is expected to sound the death knell for Asbos in an attempt to unravel Labour's justice legacy in Scotland.

But the move will also fuel fears over the SNP's 'soft-touch' agenda, which critics say favours the rights of offenders over victims..

The Nationalists say Asbos are a waste of money for young thugs because councils do not use them often enough to justify the expense.

They want councils to encourage neighbours to settle their own disputes by investing more in mediation services, which would limit the need for Asbos.

One in three orders are now breached by offenders and most have little effect. Two years ago, researchers found the behaviour of only 27 per cent of Asbo subjects studied had improved.

Further complaints about the individual on whom the order was served were recorded in 60 per cent of cases.

Research last June showed only 14 'junior Asbos' had been handed out since they were introduced five years ago - at a cost of [pounds sterling]7million, or [pounds sterling]500,000 per Asbo.

The Scottish Daily Mail understands Asbos for under-16s will technically remain a legal option, but the Executive's new strategy will mean they are unlikely ever to be imposed again.

Asbos for adults will also remain an option but they will be seen as a 'tool of last resort', in another marked departure from the policies of the last, Labour-led Executive.

Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing has already outlined the Executive's replacement approach. …