Asbos for children double

The number of antisocial behavioural orders being issued to children and young people is continuing to rise dramatically, new figures reveal.

Official statistics from the Home Office show that almost twice as many children in England and Wales were issued with an Asbo in the first three months of 2005 than during the same period in 2004.

At this rate, the number of Asbos issued to 10- to 17-year-olds in 2005 could top the 2,000 mark by the end of the year, compared with the total 235 Asbos issued to children and young people in 2002.

Howard League for Penal Reform director Frances Crook described the trend as “awful”.

“It is a tragedy for every individual child and their communities,” Crook said. “It’s a deception of the public: pretending that something is going to be done about the needs of these young children and their behaviour whereas nothing is being done to change their behaviour or to give them any support in the majority of cases.”

Repeating the charity’s demands for children to be treated first and foremost as children in need, Crook said: “Their bad behaviour is an expression of deep-rooted problems that need to be addressed for their benefit and the benefit of their communities.”

Children’s charity NCH called for a balance between support and enforcement for children with antisocial behaviour, highlighting that only nine of the 368 10- to 17-year-olds issued with Asbos between January and March 2005 were also given an individual support order to help them address the underlying causes of their behaviour. This is despite a government pledge last year that all Asbos issued to a young person would be accompanied with an ISO to help them change their future behaviour.

“There needs to be a greater emphasis towards prevention and tackling the root causes of antisocial behaviour,” said policy officer George McNamara. “The over reliance on Asbos does not achieve this.”

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