Annual reviews for Asbos for children receive warm welcome

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The Youth Justice Board has welcomed the Home Office’s decision to introduce an annual review of Asbos given to young people after one year.

The change, announced this week by Home Office minister Hazel Blears, goes some way to meeting the demands by campaigners and youth offending team managers for the abolition of the two-year minimum time limit for Asbos for young people.

Blears said the reviews would allow changes in individuals’ behaviour to be taken into account. “Patterns of behaviour may have changed significantly in a year – and this measure provides that check and balance,” she said.

They will also help ensure young people with Asbos are receiving the support they need to prevent them from breaching the terms of their order.

YJB chair Rod Morgan said: “Using a tiered approach, and with the right balance of support and enforcement, Asbos can deal constructively with troublesome young people, and benefit the wider community as a result.

“We particularly welcome the announcement that Asbos on young people will be reviewed after a year, a period which may be sufficient to achieve lasting changes to many young people’s behaviour and attitudes.”

Richard Garside, director of criminal justice think tank the Crime and Society Foundation, said the introduction of annual reviews was “an implicit recognition of the problems caused by the widely criticised two-year minimum period for an Asbo”.

The move coincided with publication of the latest official figures for the numbers of Asbos issued in England and Wales, which revealed that young people aged between 10 and 17 accounted for 727 of the 1828 Asbos issued in the first six months of 2005.

“The fact that nearly half of Asbo recipients were juveniles flies in the face of initial reassurances that the scheme was not intended for young people,” Garside said.

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