Anti-social behaviour fines urged

 

On-the-spot fines should be introduced as a deterrent against anti-social behaviour, Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague has said.

Mr Montague was speaking at a conference in the capital, organised as part of his Commission on Anti-Social Behaviour. That group is working with An Garda Síochána, the HSE and the Irish Prisons Service to prepare a report for Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in the coming weeks.

The lord mayor told the event at Croke Park that there must be “consequences” for how anti-social behaviour affected the quality of life of communities.

“Prison can result in significant deterioration of behaviour resulting in worse outcomes for our communities,” he said.

He said his commission proposed alternatives to prison, including restorative justice, and on-the-spot fines as a deterrent.

Mr Montague said restorative justice was a “valuable tool” in dealing with anti-social behaviour and its use should be rolled out throughout Dublin.

“It forces offenders to face up to the impact of their actions and make amends for their behaviour,” he said.

With regard to prevention, Mr Montague said the HSE’s early intervention parenting programme should be rolled out throughout the city, starting with the most marginalised communities.

“These programmes strengthen the bond between parents and infants in the first two years of life.,” Mr Montague said.

Such parenting programmes had consistently been shown to offer the best value for money in diverting from a later pattern of anti-social behaviour as an adult, he added.

In addition, ‘early years’ programmes could have a dramatic effect on children’s development and well-being.

Addressing the 300 delegates, Minister of State for Primary Care Roisín Shortall commented on the “unacceptable” level of alcohol-induced anti-social behaviour.

“Unless we take heed of the shocking facts in relation to our alcohol consumption, we will undoubtedly continue to face huge health and social problems,” Ms Shortall said.

“These problems, in personal and economic terms, will continue to cost us dearly. Communities will continue to face an unacceptable level of alcohol-induced anti-social behaviour."

She said that no matter how “unpalatable” the findings were, we could “simply no longer afford to bury our heads in the sand and ignore our problem with alcohol”.

“Ireland has a serious cultural problem with alcohol and we have no choice but to tackle it."

She said that while the health-related consequences of harmful use of alcohol often dominated public discussion, it had been estimated that alcohol-related social problems such as family breakdown, child welfare problems, violence, anti-social behaviour and other crime could pose an equal burden.

“Alcohol-related harm is not just restricted to the individual drinker, but has negative consequences for families, innocent bystanders and the wider community."

Mark Finnis of the Hull Centre for Restorative Practice in the UK said that city had “a bold ambition to become the world’s first restorative city”.

“As part of this ambition, we are seeing many positive outcomes including antisocial behaviour down by over 50 per cent,” Mr Finnis said.