Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, September 1, 1999 Published at 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK


Court brands youths 'anti-social'

People who break anti-social behaviour orders can end up in prison

Two youths have become the first people in England and Wales to have controversial anti-social behaviour orders served against them.

BBC's James Helm: "If they break the orders they could face up to five years in prison"
In a landmark case, a Liverpool magistrate's court granted orders against two 17-year-olds under new laws designed to tackle so-called "neighbours from hell".

Liverpool City Council, which applied for the orders, accused the pair of committing criminal damage, loitering and intimidating residents in the Edge Hill area of the city.

Action against a third boy was dropped after successful mediation between the council and his family.

[ image: Liverpool magistrates: Ruling could open floodgates]
Liverpool magistrates: Ruling could open floodgates
The application by the council's special Anti-Social Behaviour Unit against the youths could open the way for a flood of similar requests from other councils.

The court ordered the youths not to enter two roads in the Edge Hill area; not to cause or attempt to cause criminal damage; not to spit in a public place; not to use threatening behaviour or behaviour which would cause alarm, distress or harassment to others and not to incite or encourage others to behave in that way.

One boy was also ordered not to urinate in public.

The court was shown videos of the boys with a claw hammer, climbing on roofs, throwing missiles, urinating in public, spitting and jumping on a car.

Their defence, David Woods, argued that they had not personally intimidated anyone, and said it would be better for them to be referred to social services.

Civil liberties groups have also complained that the anti-social behaviour orders, which came into force in April this year, could breach European human rights legislation.

John Wadham, director of Liberty, said: "Almost any behaviour will qualify for an offence ... excessive noise, failure to control children, or even complaining vigorously to neighbours are all possible examples."

But magistrate David Tapp said: "There is a lot of controversy about whether making orders contravenes human rights, but we all have human rights and everyone has the right to enjoy a quiet life and not be harassed and distressed by others' behaviour."

Liverpool city council welcomed the "landmark" ruling, saying it sent out "a clear message" that anti-social behaviour would not be tolerated.

Merseyside police added that the orders would prove "a valuable deterrent".


Anti-social behaviour orders are aimed at curbing the behaviour of individuals likely to cause "harassment, alarm or distress to others".

They can be applied to anyone over the age of 10, although the target range is 12-17 years.

Only one anti-social behaviour order has been issued so far, against a woman from Dundee in Scotland who had been intimidating her neighbours.

The two 17 year olds are not being named while they consider whether to appeal against the ruling.

The orders are tailor-made for each individual and can be used to impose curfews or to send children as young as 12 to local council secure accommodation.

They are effective for two years. It is a criminal offence to break them and can result in a maximum jail term of five years.

The measure was introduced as part of the government's £63m campaign to stop young offenders developing into life-long criminals.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

10 Jun 99†|†UK Politics
'Anti-social' juveniles given reprieve

Internet Links

Home Office

Number 10 Downing Street

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online