New asbos ‘will punish children for being children’

New laws to clamp down on anti-social behaviour will “promote intolerance of youth” and damage the relationship between young people and the police, the children‘s commissioner and leading organisations representing young people warn today.

In a letter to the Observer Dr Maggie Atkinson, children’s commissioner f in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill going through parliament.

They say the proposed clampdown on unruly behaviour will “punish children over the age of 10 simply for being children” by widening the definition of antisocial behaviour and reducing the burden of proof so sharply that the effect could be to “outlaw everyday activities” such as skateboarding or ball games. The Home Office argues that the measures will deliver speedier and more effective curbs on unruly activity.

Under the proposals antisocial behaviour orders (asbos) will be replaced by new Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (ipnas).Currently, to be given an asbo a person must have behaved in a way that “caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress”. But under the new law, a person would have to have behaved only in a way that is “capable of causing nuisance or annoyance” to get an injunction.

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