New antisocial behaviour bill ‘contravenes’ other acts

Sections of the government’s proposed Antisocial Behaviour
Bill could contravene both the Children’s Act 1989 and the
Human Rights Act 1998, according to an independent report
commissioned by an alliance of charities, writes Clare

Thirteen charities including The Children’s Society,
Barnardo’s, and NCH have joined together because they fear a
number of the bill’s proposals apply short-term solutions to
long-term problems.

“We fear that the effect of the bill will be to alienate
children and young people from their communities, to scapegoat
children and young people and reinforce negative
stereotypes,” said a joint statement from the group, which
also raises concerns about the lack of consultation on the
bill’s measures.

However, the proposal to remove reporting restrictions on
journalists for children who are subject to antisocial behaviour
orders could breach both the Children Act 1989 and the Human Rights
Act 1998, according to Anthony Jennings QC, author of the
independent report.

The bill also plans to give police powers to return a child to
their home after 9pm in certain circumstances, which Jennings
condemns as a “nation-wide curfew on young people under
16”. The clause giving police powers to disperse groups of
two or more immediately, “contains some breathtaking
provisions”, and breaches several parts of human rights

The bill received its second reading in the House of Lords last
week. The next stage, committee stage, where every clause is
scrutinised and amendments tabled, is planned after the
parliamentary recess on 11 September.

The fifteenth report from the joint committee on human rights
published this week also raises concerns over the bill, and
highlights that the new Part 8 of the bill “could give rise
to a risk of incompatibility with convention rights” in
relation to clause 59, which gives police powers to impose
conditions on ‘public assemblies’ on groups of two or
more people.

Meanwhile, a woman who was banned from areas of north London for
eight years last year under an antisocial behaviour order, has
failed in her high court challenge to the ban. Lord Justice Dyson
refused to intervene, but said Linda McNamara could challenge the
terms of the ASBO at the crown court if she wished.

Joint committee on human rights report

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