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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March, 2005, 14:28 GMT
Asbo louts face 'name and shame'
People under anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) will soon face "naming and shaming" as a matter of course, Charles Clarke has announced.

Under new Home Office guidance, police and local authorities will be urged to publicise the names of adults and children as young as 10.

The Home Office has announced that 1,826 Asbos were handed out in the first nine months of 2004.

The figure is twice that for the whole of 2003 and is steadily increasing.

Greater Manchester and London are leading the way in giving the orders but around the country, increasing numbers of people are breaching Asbos - 42%, an increase from 36%.

More than half of the adults who breached their Asbos were jailed.

It will make clear to anti-social people that their personal details will be widely publicised in order to protect the community
Home Office spokesman

Under the new guidelines, names and photographs will appear in newspapers and leaflets, and TV and radio will also be used.

Mr Clarke said: "We know that too many communities are still blighted by the mindless behaviour of a few yobs, who can ruin the quality of life for everyone.

"Many offenders think that they are untouchable and above the law.

"If they thought that there would be a news blackout on their actions they must now think again.

"Publicising Asbos has been tested in the courts and today we are making the position crystal clear - your photo could be all over the local media, your local community will know who you are and breaching an Asbo could land you in prison.

"Publicity is part of proper enforcement, which is essential if we are to tackle anti-social behaviour and reassure communities that something is being done."

But campaigners Liberty say publicity could cause vigilante attacks.

Legislation already allows the names of those who have been given the orders to be published, but the new guidelines will encourage the practice.

The human rights of those given Asbos must be considered, the guidelines will stress.

But identifying individuals subject to Asbos is "essential" for communities to tackle anti-social behaviour, the Home Office will argue.

'Proportionate publicity'

In a test case last October, the High Court ruled in favour of Brent Council, in north London, which had published the names and photographs of a gang who had been given Asbos.

But the court said the authorities needed to consider the human rights of those involved and ensure that any publicity was proportionate.

The new guidance says councils and police must take this into account.

But it emphasises that, in most cases, publicity should be expected and that a photograph will "usually be required".

A Liberty spokesman said the organisation did not oppose Asbos but feared naming those handed the orders could lead to "vigilantism".

He added: "This decision will encourage other authorities to do the same until somebody somewhere gets seriously hurt."

Assistant general secretary of probation union Napo, Harry Fletcher, said: "The increase in the breach rate comes as no surprise - the Asbo merely moves the problem on and does nothing to deal with the causes of anti-social activity."

See examples of the posters and leaflets

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