Campaigners angered over jailing of children who breach antisocial orders

As many as 40 children and young people end up in custody each
month for breaching conditions of antisocial behaviour orders,
official figures have revealed.

Campaigners have condemned the figures as proof that Asbos are
leading to more young people being locked up, contravening the
government’s stated aim to keep them out of custody. They have also
warned that the real figure could be higher.

The figures were provided by the Youth Justice Board in a
parliamentary written answer on 16 November. They show that 121
under 18s were held for Asbo breaches between the middle of June
and the middle of September, and a further 83 since

Youth Justice Board chair Rod Morgan said the figures were
worrying. “The board is concerned about the extent to which
breaches of Asbos may be a factor affecting the number of young
people in custody, and will be investigating data and individual
cases to develop a clearer picture of the paths these young people
took before entering custody.”

Howard League for Penal Reform director Frances Crook condemned the
use of Asbos for under 18s, adding that she understood the real
number of custodial sentences resulting from breaches to be even

She said: “I estimate they are reaching 70 a month, and I think
they are increasing. Anything you do with children ought to be
based on their best interests. Asbos are a form of diktat which are
the worst kind of politician’s lie – they are pretending to do
something about a problem. It is lying to the public and it is
outrageous. It is child abuse.”

Her concerns about the policy were echoed by Liberty spokesperson
Barry Hugill, who said the fact that 200 Asbos had been breached in
six months raised questions about their effectiveness.

He said: “The concern all along has been that Asbos can be used as
a back door way [of jailing people] for behaviour that does not
carry a custodial sentence, and does seem to be a very, very
worrying fact indeed. If somebody is going to be jailed, it should
be for the offence itself.”

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