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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 14:03 GMT
Brothers in crime stay at large
Robert (left) and Ben White
Two brothers are linked with harassment and joyriding
Two teenage brothers linked to almost 100 crimes each are back on the streets after evading custody.

Magistrates decided not to lock up Ben White, 17, and Robert, 15 - but took the rare step of naming them.

They extended Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) that banned the the boys from the centre of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Their family is being ordered out of its council home, which is now in the expanded exclusion zone.

They need to be taken off our streets and put in secure accommodation

Mike Roe, North Somerset councillor
A council spokesman said the boys, from the town's Bournville estate, have each been linked to nearly 100 offences of harassment, joyriding, intimidation and shoplifting.

Mike Roe, Conservative leader of North Somerset Council, said on Wednesday that the court was not tough enough on the boys.

He said: "The Home Office should look very seriously at this and give much firmer guidance to magistrates.

Youngest banned

"When people are causing absolute mayhem in the community, as in this instance, then we are getting to the point when they need to be taken off our streets and put in secure accommodation."

The brothers appeared before Flax Bourton magistrates after breaching behaviour orders imposed two years ago.

If they believe they are untouchable then let's put them in a young offenders' institution and give the public the respite they deserve

Norman Brennan, Victims of Crime Trust
At the time, Robert was aged 12 and the youngest person ever to be subject to an ABSO.

But they repeatedly flouted the ban on entering the town, according to North Somerset Council.

A spokesman said the brothers had been linked to reports of 70 lawless incidents since last May alone.

The court extended the pair's orders for a further two years, warning that another breach could mean jail.

The exclusion zone now covers an out-of-town shopping centre and three housing estates - including the one where Robert still lives with his parents.

Losing home

Ben was said to be living "elsewhere", outside the area covered by the ban.

The family had been served with a repossession order on its home, ordering it to leave by 3 April - largely because of the boys' behaviour.

The magistrates removd the ban on naming young offenders, concluding that the public had a right to know their identities.

Norman Brennan, of the Victims of Crime Trust asked: "How can you have faith in orders supposed to control the behaviour of those out of control when they have no effect?"

"It is the type of order with no teeth that brings the justice system into disrepute.

"If they believe they are untouchable then let's put them in a young offenders' institution and give the public the respite they deserve."

See also:

20 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Blair fronts street crime forum
23 Aug 01 | UK
Youth justice: How it works
21 Feb 02 | UK
Panic on the streets?
12 Mar 02 | England
Life for 'Rolex murderers'
04 Jan 02 | UK
A country in the crosshairs
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