Record levels of Asbos for children

The number of antisocial behaviour orders served on children aged between 10 and 17 is continuing to rise, with the total for 2005 likely to be 30% higher than for the previous year.

Between January and September 2005, 1,058 children were given Asbos compared with 1,077 in the whole of 2004.

The former head of the prison and probation service Martin Narey last week criticised the “routine use of Asbos” for children and teenagers. Narey, now chief executive of Barnardo’s, said that Home Office guidance in 1998 originally called for Asbos to be issued for under-18s “in exceptional circumstances” only, but that this was changed in 2003.
Narey commented: “There were more than 500 child Asbos in 2003, more than 1,000 in 2004 and we can expect the figures for 2005 to be much worse. This is not exceptional use. In some areas the use of Asbos on children is becoming entirely routine.”

Barnardo’s is calling for measures to address what they describe as “inexplicable geographical inconsistencies” in the use of Asbos.

The charity also wants to see a change in legislation to ensure a needs assessment is carried out before a child is given an Asbo, and for a restriction on the length of time Asbos can be active.

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