Magistrates lobby on child Asbos

    Antisocial behaviour order applications against young people
    should be heard in youth courts to safeguard their welfare, the
    Magistrates’ Association has said.

    It has written to Baroness Scotland, minister for criminal
    justice, asking for a new clause to be inserted in the forthcoming
    Sentencing and Youth Justice Bill to enable youth courts to issue
    “standalone” Asbos.

    Under current legislation, youth courts can only hear
    applications for Asbos in cases where they have already convicted
    the individual concerned of a criminal offence.

    The association is concerned that “standalone” Asbos are issued
    in adult courts where youth offending teams are not always present,
    and magistrates can lack experience of young people’s issues.

    John Fassenfelt, chair of the association’s youth courts
    committee, said he hoped the proposal could result in fewer Asbos
    being issued against vulnerable young people.

    Rehabilitation agency Nacro said it would lobby for young
    offenders with high welfare needs to be dealt with by family
    courts.

    The Prison Reform Trust is likely to call on the government to
    use the bill to limit the time for which offenders must disclose
    previous convictions, to help young offenders clear their
    records.

    The proposals were put forward by the trust in 2001 in response
    to a Home Office review of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
    1974, but they have yet to be taken forward.

    Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon said: “Reducing the
    time offenders who have not committed serious or violent crimes are
    obliged to disclose offending would give young offenders the chance
    to wipe the slate clean.”

     

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