Curfews fall foul of human rights

Human rights safeguards are needed for new child curfew powers,
according to a House of Commons committee report.

In a review of the Criminal Justice and Police Bill currently
before parliament, the Joint Committee on Human Rights recommends
protection against the arbitrary exercise of powers to make and
operate the curfew schemes.

The legitimate aims of the schemes – to prevent crime and public
disorder – should be written into the legislation and use of the
schemes’ powers should be carefully monitored, says the joint
committee’s report.

“Given the existence of other wide powers available to the
police to protect young persons and to maintain public order, child
curfew schemes may be disproportionate interferences with rights,
in that they may not be the least restrictive measures necessary to
accomplish the objectives set out by government,” says the

The bill will allow local authority curfew schemes to be applied
to children under the age of 16. Currently, such schemes apply only
to children under 10. The schemes allow councils to ban children
from designated public places between 9pm and 6am, unless
accompanied by a parent or responsible adult. Children who break
the curfew can be removed by the police and the council must
investigate the case within 48 hours.

The report says “it is at least arguable”that child curfew
schemes interfere with the right to liberty, the right to privacy
or respect for private life, and the right to freedom of
association and peaceful assembly. The bill is now at committee
stage in the Lords.

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