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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 January 2007, 05:57 GMT
Asbos 'are not a badge of honour'
Teenagers
Asbos had a positive impact on comunities, the government says
Most people who are handed an anti-social behaviour order do not regard them as a "badge of honour", the Government has said.

Spokesman Lord Bassam of Brighton told peers many orders had "made a difference" lives and communities.

"Negative comments about 'a badge of honour' are doing much to undermine an extremely valuable tool," he added.

The Youth Justice Board first used the phrase, saying that many teenagers considered Asbos to be glamorous.

'Highly effective'

Lord Bassam, in a Lords debate on the YJB report published last November, said: "The study reinforces our view that the system is being used widely and wisely and that the orders have been highly effective if used properly."

The orders were widely observed, he added.

Lord Bassam also said: "Prohibitions must be appropriate and carefully thought-out, so that they are easy to understand, practical for the individual and provide protection for the community."

He added: "Asbos are not intended to punish or embarrass individuals but to protect communities, so we advocate a case-by-case approach.

"The human rights of the individual should be properly balanced against the rights of individuals to be protected against anti-social behaviour. We refute the claim that young people are being demonised or criminalised."

The YJB research, conducted by the Policy Research Bureau and crime-reduction charity Nacro, looked at Asbos given to under-18s between January 2004 and January 2005 in 10 areas of England and Wales.

Of 137 young people, 67 had breached their order at least once, 42 more than once and six on six occasions or more.

Crossbencher Baroness Stern said the report had "confirmed our worst anxieties."

She added: "We are talking here about children.

"We have great sympathy with people who have to live in the same streets as disturbed and uncontrollable children but our anti-social legislation is a poor and unjust substitute for a properly resourced policy on family and child care and support for neighbourhood initiatives

"The report finds that the children given these orders are among the most disadvantaged. They have suffered family breakdown, abuse, bereavement and loss.

"The conditions imposed on these young children were often found to be unrealistic and not understood."

Conservative Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked: "Are these orders fit for purpose and are they being used inappropriately as a first rather than a last resort?"

The debate ended without a vote.


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