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Tuesday, March 16, 1999 Published at 17:42 GMT

UK Politics

Children targeted by anti-social order

The orders will target children aged between 10 and 17

Children as young as 10 will be subject to the government's new anti-social behaviour orders, Home Secretary Jack Straw has revealed.

Introducing his measures in the Commons, Mr Straw said the government was determined to put right the lack of effective remedies to combat "serious and persistent anti-social behaviour in our communities".

The Tories gave the measures a cautious welcome, but said Mr Straw's statement was largely a re-hash of old announcements.

The home secretary told MPs the new anti-social behaviour orders will be used against anyone over the age of 10 whom the courts believe is likely to cause "harassment, alarm or distress to others".

They may take the form of curfews or the prohibition of going to certain places or associating with certain people.

They will come into effect from 1 April.

Stiff penalties

Breaking the order will be punishable by up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine.

Mr Straw expects those aged between 12 to 17 will be the main targets for the new orders.

They will also be against those who police believe are guilty of racist abuse.

[ image: Jack Straw: Heated exchange with residents]
Jack Straw: Heated exchange with residents
The home secretary then detailed a programme of crime prevention which he said was the largest in this or any other country.

He said over £170m of new money would be put into a programme to tackle crime hot-spots.

The plans will target the two million homes in the UK most affected by crime.

Following up the chancellor's announcement in last week's Budget that a further £150m will be made available for crime prevention, Mr Straw said the total funds for the crime reduction programme added up to over £400m.

CCTV expansion

The home secretary said some of the funds would be ploughed into a network of close-circuit television cameras in housing estates, bus and railway stations.

[ image: Tories say CCTV won't replace Bobbie on the beat]
Tories say CCTV won't replace Bobbie on the beat
He said CCTV would deter crime as it was like, "having a number of police officers permanently on the beat, with eyes in the back of their heads and an incontrovertible record of what they have seen."

Responding to the statement Shadow Home Secretary Sir Norman Fowler said: "Certainly you need CCTV but you also need police on the beat.

"And our fundamental criticism of this government is that they are cutting back the police."

He added that CCTV apart Mr Straw had simply re-announced old polices.

Clash with locals

Earlier, Mr Straw, alongside local councillors and police officers, was confronted by several residents and workers during a visit to north London.

The home secretary was told that his new measures needed backing-up with more facilities for bored youths.

Caretaker Sharon Walters told Mr Straw - who served on the local council 25 years ago - about gangs of youths up to 40 strong who roam around harassing and intimidating locals.

She said: "We have got untold youths here who have got nowhere to go and nowhere to turn.

"It's unfair on children - how can we expect them to behave themselves when they don't enjoy a good standard of life?"

Mr Straw replied that rowdy behaviour directed against other people could not be excused.

He added that: "The bad behaviour of these kids stops with these kids and their parents and that's just true.

"If I felt that putting a youth club on every estate corner would solve the problem of youth crime, I would do it tomorrow," he said.

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