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

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

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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