Legal aid has been granted to a teenage boy to challenge the
government’s policy of placing curfews on under-16s in
certain areas in a landmark test case, writes Amy
Lawyers for the 14-year-old, who is backed by human rights
group, Liberty, will argue that the operation of a 9pm curfew in
Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey, breaches the boy’s human
The Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 gave the police the power to
disperse groups of young people on the street and send home
under-16s who are on the streets between 9pm and 6am.
Liberty claimed last month that almost three quarters of English
and Welsh councils issued curfews for teenagers during the summer
The boy’s lawyers will argue that police do not have to
have a reason to escort under-16s home and will state that this
breaches the right to a private life and the right to freedom of
assembly, enshrined in the human rights act.
Barry Hugill spokesperson for Liberty said: “This is
penalising the vast majority of law abiding young people on the
basis of the bad behaviour of a few.”
But Tony Arbour, conservative leader of Richmond Council, said
that the police would only take teenagers home if they continued to
congregate in a group after being asked to stop doing so. He added
that so far no teenagers had been escorted home in Richmond under
“They (the dispersal powers) are a good thing because in
towns up and down the country people, particularly old people, do
feel intimidated by groups of youths,” he said.
The boy applied for permission to seek judicial review which is
likely to be heard in the high court next month.