Ethnic minority young people are over represented in Asbo numbers

Young people from ethnic minorities receive a “disproportionately high” number of antisocial behaviour orders, a Youth Justice Board report this week finds.

Nearly a quarter of young people receiving Asbos are from ethnic minorities, “substantially” above their representation in the population. It also found that almost half of young people breached their Asbos more than once for failures to comply with “counterproductive” conditions such as banning young people from meeting friends in local areas.

Many young people did not have a clear understanding of the details of their orders, and it was “not uncommon” for young people to “openly flout” the prohibitions that placed the greatest restrictions on their lifestyle, the report also found.

Courts also showed “little grasp” of alternatives to Asbos offering support to address young people’s behaviour, including individual support and parenting orders, according to the research based on 137 Asbo cases between 2004-5.

Of the 137 cases, half of young people receiving Asbos had two or fewer previous convictions, and one in five had none,
showing that the orders were not being targeted as intended on people posing the greatest problems to their communities.

Eighteen young people were sentenced for breach of an Asbo as their sole offence, and one of these was jailed. Custodial sentences were imposed on 36 young people at some point after they had received an Asbo. The report also revealed professionals were divided when it came to assessing the effectiveness of Asbos.

Youth offending team workers regarded the high level of noncompliance as a “key indicator” that Asbos were “ineffective” and
said they had little positive impact on behaviour. But the report said that policy and local authority staff believed Asbos were used appropriately and that they were mainly convinced of their effectiveness.

Key findings
● 22 per cent of Asbos are given to young people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
● One in five young people receiving an Asbo has no previous convictions.
● Courts have little knowledge of support orders to address young people’s behaviour including parenting orders and individual
support orders.

Contact the author
 Maria Ahmed

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