Asbo figures spark fresh opposition

Almost half of the under-18s who breached their antisocial
behaviour orders by the end of 2003 ended up behind bars, official
figures reveal.

Although the Home Office said 149 of the 179 10- to 17-year-olds
who breached their Asbos and were sentenced to custody were also
being dealt with for other offences, children’s charities
insist the findings are proof that antisocial behaviour policies
are criminalising young people and infringing their human

“Asbos are a way of fast-tracking children into our criminal
justice system,” warned a spokesperson for the
Children’s Society. “Because such a high number of
orders are being breached, more children risk ending up in the
criminal justice system – and even prison – for civil
offences. This is why we find the figures announced by the
government so alarming.”

He said the charity was also concerned by the fact that children
could now be routinely named and shamed for breaching Asbos, as
well as for getting them. The lifting of automatic reporting
restrictions to allow the local media to give details of those who
breach their Asbos came into effect this week under provisions in
the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

“Naming and shaming does not help address the
behaviour,” he said. “It can actively serve as a badge
of honour, making children feel big and bad, and giving them lots
of attention. We are living in a culture where children are being
blamed when we as adults are unable to manage their

Criticising the government’s “obsession” with
Asbos despite concerns over their impact on an already overcrowded
prison system, a spokesperson for the Howard League for Penal
Reform insisted Asbos did nothing to deal with the causes of
antisocial behaviour and distorted work being done to build
stronger communities.

Alongside the figures, the Home Office announced an extra
£500,000 in funding for individual support orders (ISOs).
These can be attached to an Asbo and direct the young person to
support, such as anger management and drug and alcohol programmes,
to address the underlying causes of their antisocial behaviour.
However, only seven ISOs have so far been issued alongside

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