Legal challenge to banning orders

Legal aid was granted to a teenager last week to challenge the
government’s policy of putting curfews on under-16s in certain
areas in a landmark test case.

The Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 gave police powers to disperse
groups of young people and to send home under-16s on the streets
between 9pm and 6am.

But lawyers for the 14 year old, who was backed by human rights
charity Liberty, will argue that the operation of a 9pm curfew in
Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey, breaches the boy’s rights to a
private life and to freedom of assembly.

The teenager’s application for permission to seek judicial review
is likely to be heard next month.

Meanwhile, the Howard League for Penal Reform has called for
antisocial behaviour orders for children to be abolished.

In its submission to the home affairs select committee’s inquiry
into antisocial behaviour, the charity claims that Asbos isolate,
exclude and stigmatise young people. It wants to see resources
injected into activities for children that engage them in
constructive ways.

The charity’s comments were given credence by the announcement by
NCH Cymru Winchestown Family Centre in Blaenau Gwent that it has
reduced the local crime rate by almost 50 per cent by promoting
joint agency working and providing a range of support and advice to
children, young people and families and without the use of Asbos,
curfews or dispersal orders.

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