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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 07:01 GMT
Plan to name Asbo youths attacked
Police arrest
Publicity is key to an Asbo's effectiveness said the Home Office.
Plans to allow the naming of children who breach anti-social behaviour orders (Asbo) have been criticised by children's charity Barnardo's.

The Children's Commissioner for Wales Peter Clarke agreed and said that the move by the UK Government could undermine the rights of young people.

Under current law, it is possible to name children issued with an Asbo.

But it is usually against the law to identify them if they breach the order and appear in a criminal court.

Barnardo's said the plans could lead to children in other criminal cases being named.

Asbos were introduced by the government to stamp out unruly and anti-social behaviour, and particularly have been used to target young people.

They are usually imposed by local authorities in a civil court.

Children over the age of 10 who are the subject of an order are usually named under civil law.

Asbos are being used disproportionately against young people,
Peter Clarke

If they break the order, they commit a criminal offence, however - and it is normally against the law to identify children who appear in court on criminal charges.

The Serious and Organised Crime and Police Bill, which is going before the House of Commons, will make it legal to name children appearing in court for breaking an Asbo.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Law in Action programme, Mr Clarke said the bill chipped away at the rights of young people.

"I'm concerned about this. It's chipping away at the rights of young people and Asbos are being used disproportionately against young people," he said.

Peter Clarke, Children's Commissioner
Peter Clarke says children are 'disproportionately' given Asbos

"If someone does breach an order, the behaviour may not be illegal but, by breaching an Asbo, this will lead to a criminal offence.

"And now they will be named. A child who is accused of murder won't be named until they're convicted.

"So in some ways this is putting a disproportionate degree of notoriety on the child because of what may be a very small bit of anti-social behaviour."

Barnardo's has warned this could be the "slippery slope" to the naming of all children in all criminal trials.

The Home Office said in a statement: "Publicity is a key factor in the effectiveness of Asbos.

"Whilst local communities can currently identify those who are subject to an Asbo, they are not informed of the outcome when the individual commits the more serious offence of breaching that Asbo.

"Lifting reporting restrictions on breaches should not only act as a deterrent factor but will also maintain public confidence in the effectiveness of the system."

Demystifying the war on yobs
10 Feb 05 |  Magazine
Asbo imposed on 10-year-old boy
09 Feb 05 |  West Yorkshire
Man admits eighth Asbo breach
20 Dec 04 |  North West Wales

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