Vulnerable young people unfairly at risk from antisocial behaviour orders

Some children
with learning difficulties are at risk of being given antisocial
behaviour disorders because their conditions are misunderstood,
campaigners have warned.


Charities are calling for greater protection for children with
autism, Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactive
disorder whose behaviour is defined as “antisocial”
under hard-hitting legislation.


In one case, a 12-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome who was
verbally aggressive to neighbours only “narrowly
escaped” an Asbo after a support group intervened.  Another 12-year-old diagnosed
with ADHD was threatened with an Asbo due to behavioural problems,
while one family feared they might have to move after their
autistic child was labelled “psychotic” by


The cases are part of a growing body of evidence being collected by
the British Institute for Crain-Injured Children (Bibic) and the
National Autistic Society.


Pam Knight, director of development and communications at Bibic,
said: “When the Home Office talks about ‘families from
hell’ they are at times referring to families with children
with these conditions.  The
phraseology used is aggressive, and children with these
difficulties are being tarred with the same


Alex Gask, a solicitor for human rights group Liberty, told a
conference organised by Bibic last week that  antisocial behaviour legislation
did not offer enough protection for people with learning


He said: “The definition of antisocial behaviour tends to be
‘whatever the victim thinks it means’.  People with learning
difficulties are vulnerable under this legislation because it is
too vague.”


Gask also said sentencing left “little scope” for
taking into account whether offenders were capable of adhering to
Asbo conditions.


The Home Office admitted to the conference that they did not
collect statistics on the number of people with learning
difficulties who were given antisocial behaviour orders.


The National Autistic Society highlighted an “urgent”
need for more training of courts and police.


The Youth Justice Board is to publish guidance for youth offending
teams on antisocial behaviour orders next month which will
highlight the need for the assessment of people with learning

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