Clarke’s “naming and shaming” plan slammed

    Guidance slammed

     
    Charles Clarke

    Home Secretary Charles Clarke has come under fire over new guidance
    announced today urging local authorities to “name and
    shame” individuals issued with antisocial behaviour
    orders.

    The Association of Directors of Social Services and charities
    slammed the proposals, warning they would put children at
    risk.
    Chair of the ADSS children and families committee John Coughlan
    said there was “no evidence” to show that “naming
    and shaming” acted as a deterrent to criminal
    behaviour.

    He added: “We are very concerned about the potential risks
    this will pose to children who are vulnerable and out of control.
    Local authorities need to ensure there are proper safeguards for
    the needs of these children.”

    The latest government statistics showed that 45 per cent of the 730
    Asbos issued from July to September 2004 were given to juveniles,
    and nearly half of all orders were breached.

    Publicising is now the norm

    The new guidance published today states that “publicising
    should be the norm not the exception”.

    Announcing the guidance today, Clarke said: “Many offenders think
    that they are untouchable and above the law. If they thought that
    there would be a news blackout on their actions they must now think
    again.

    “Publicising Asbos been tested in the courts and today we are
    making the position crystal clear – your photo could be all over
    the local media, your local community will know who you are, and
    breaching an Asbo could land you in prison.”

    The guidance was created following a High Court decision last year
    to uphold the “naming and shaming” of three teenagers
    on Asbos in Brent after they claimed their right to private and
    family life had been breached.

    Personal details and photographs of the boys aged 15, 16, and 18
    were distributed to thousands of homes and posted on the
    internet.

    The judges ruled that the publicity was “justified, reasonable
    and proportionate” and dismissed applications for judicial
    review.


    “A cheap piece of electioneering”

    Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform
    called the guidance “a cheap piece of
    electioneering”.

    She warned: “This guidance will put children in danger, and I
    dread the day when a child is beaten up in their community because
    of being named and shamed.”

    Coughlan said the ADSS would support local authorities who engaged
    in preventive work to ensure that Asbos were used “only as
    the exception, not the rule”.

    In an evidence session on antisocial behaviour to the home affairs
    select committee last week, Youth Justice Board chair Rod Morgan
    also expressed concern over “naming and shaming”.

    Inappropriate

     
    YJB chair Rod Morgan

    Morgan told the committee: “We are extremely worried about
    any proposition that there be a presumption in favour of loss of
    anonymity and publication. There are circumstances where
    exceptionally it can and should be used, but we think it is
    inappropriate and it can be in some instances profoundly
    counterproductive.”

    Morgan cited a recent case in Brighton where a 16-year-old girl
    with “very substantial” mental health problems had
    breached an Asbo and received two-page coverage in the local
    newspaper.

    He told the committee: “The psychiatrist informed me that it
    was now virtually impossible to arrange housing and mental health
    support for this girl who needed it because she had the mark of
    Cain so indelibly stamped upon her public forehead.”

    Children’s charity Barnardos also told the committee they
    were concerned that Asbos would be seen as a “badge of
    honour” for young people among their peers.

    To view the guidance, see: www.together.gov.uk

     

     

     

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