[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Anti-yob laws 'breaching rights'
Youths in central London
Richmond council say the curfews do help cut anti-social behaviour
"Curfew zones" used to reduce yobbish behaviour in south-west London violate innocent youths' rights, say lawyers.

A 15-year-old "model student" is challenging the police's use of dispersal zones in Richmond.

Unaccompanied under-16s found in zones after 9pm can be held and escorted home, whether badly behaved or not.

Lawyers say powers do not distinguish between the innocent and the guilty, while police say they are only used on troublemakers.

Richmond Council says the zones, which are introduced in areas which have a history of harassment and intimidation, reduce anti-social behaviour.

They shouldn't be allowed to treat me like a criminal just because I'm under 16
"W"

In the High Court on Thursday, Lord Justice Brooke and Mr Justice Mitting heard that "W", who cannot be named due to his age, had never been in trouble with the police.

Javan Herberg, appearing for the teenager, said the zones violated the human rights of "wholly innocent" young people.

He told the court that more than 400 zones had been introduced under the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act. While this case involves Richmond, its implications could be much wider, he said.

In a statement the boy said police should stop people for bad behaviour.

He added: "But they shouldn't be allowed to treat me like a criminal just because I'm under 16."

There is a real danger of sweeping so-called 'anti-yob powers' demonising an entire generation of mostly decent kids.
Alex Gask
Liberty

He wants judges to rule that the zones breach his rights under several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Alex Gask, legal officer for Liberty, which is backing the boy, said: "He rightly objects to laws that would remove his right to walk down the street at 9pm on a summer's evening.

"There is a real danger of sweeping so-called 'anti-yob powers' demonising an entire generation of mostly decent kids."

Richmond Council, along with the Metropolitan Police, has used the zones in Ham, Twickenham and Richmond centre.

The Home Office, backed by lawyers for the police and council, will argue the application for judicial review should be dismissed and says the zones do not breach human rights or common law.

It says the 15-year-old could not bring the claim because he had never been stopped by police inside a dispersal area.




SEE ALSO:
Blair pledges new 'yob' crackdown
12 May 05 |  UK Politics


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific