Government advisors condemn naming and shaming guidance

Two senior government advisors have called into question the policy of lifting reporting restrictions on young people who break antisocial behaviour orders.

Local authorities are being urged by the government to allow publication of the details of people of any age who have breached the terms of their Asbos, which is a criminal offence.

But children’s commissioner Al Aynsley-Green warned that so-called “naming and shaming” amounted to a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Children have the right to privacy, and I’m very alarmed when invitations are expressed through the media to get local people to name and shame young people, particularly children under the age of criminal responsibility,” he said.

Youth Justice Board chair Rod Morgan also criticised the policy. “It’s not the sort of thing that would be tolerated in most countries and I think it’s unfortunate that we have taken that route,” Morgan said. “It’s often counter-productive.”

Aynsley-Green also expressed concern that the excessive use of Asbos and “incessant dispersals” could prove disastrous in the long run. “Alienating a generation of young people from law and authority can only be seriously damaging to our society in the future,” he said.

The practice of “naming and shaming” was first announced in by the government in 2004 and has since become common practice. A Home Office spokesperson said that publicity was important in proving to the public that something was being done about antisocial behaviour.

“It is the same for young people as for anyone else,” he said. “Being publicly named is a vital deterrent to antisocial behaviour.”


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