Antisocial behaviour orders are inappropriate for people with
learning difficulties, particularly young people.
The Youth Justice Board’s guidance on Asbos to youth offending
teams next month will discuss the assessment of people with
learning difficulties. This is progress, but it’s not enough. The
Home Office has no statistics on how many people with learning
difficulties have received Asbos. This information must be
collected. Youth offending teams must be trained to identify
Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit disorder and other
conditions that require support for individuals and their families.
The presumption must be that people with a diagnosed condition that
affects their learning and behaviour should not be given Asbos.
This presumption and exceptions to it should be laid down in the
There is a wider problem too. A climate of righteous indignation
surrounds antisocial behaviour. Newspapers feed the hysteria for
their own gain, in the guise of providing a public service by
naming and shaming offenders. Commentators – including ministers –
use inflammatory language which demonises young people, and permits
others to do so.
This is why neighbours feel justified in victimising families with
autistic children. Zero tolerance has become zero compassion.