Donald Dewar, secretary of state for Scotland.
Mr Dewar was visiting Fairhill Community Centre in Hamilton where a likely extension to the town's pilot Child Safety Initiative was announced by Strathclyde Police chief constable John Orr. At the same event, South Lanarkshire Council revealed a 3 million investment in leisure facilities for young people throughout the region.
Mr Dewar said:
'Partnership is at the heart of the scheme. What we have in Hamilton is first-class team work involving Strathclyde Police, South Lanarkshire Council and most important of all, the local community.
'I will always have time for new ideas which make for safer streets and give people a sense of security in their homes. There is always a place for traditional good co-operation and initiatives built around the work of bobbies on the beat.
'Let us be clear what this scheme is about. This is not a matter of enforcing a curfew. It is a direct response to the calls of local people demanding that they have more security in their own areas. It is to protect children and tackle these local concerns.
'It is a pilot project and the independent evaluation report - which The Scottish Office is funding - will form a good basis for other councils and police forces to decide whether or not to launch similar initiatives.
'I am glad that South Lanarkshire Council and Strathclyde Police, who are in the best position to decide whether the pilot is working or not, look likely to extend it to the rest of Hamilton once the evaluation is completed.
'I am also delighted to endorse the actions of the council who have listened to the youth of South Lanarkshire and have invested£3 million to provide state-of-the-art facilities for this age group in towns throughout the area.
'They have involved more than 500 young people from secondary schools and community centres across South Lanarkshire in the development of the new Integrated Youth Facilities - a clear and welcome indication that the council are listening and responding to all elements of the community, both young and old.
'It is no crime to be young. The operation depends on good will, a sensitive role for the police in the community. It is clear to me from my visit last night that the police's primary concern is child welfare - that is something in which we all have an interest.'
1. The Scottish Office announced£5,000 funding for an evaluation of the Child Safety Initiative on 23 October 1997 (news release 1566/97 refers).