ASBOs: Breach puts more children in custody

| 21 September 2004

The rise in the number of children in prison for breaching anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) has been attacked by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

In written evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into anti-social behaviour, the league highlights the case of Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in County Durham, where 17 per cent of boys and 33 per cent of girls are being held for breaching an ASBO.

"Involvement in activities that have only merited a civil sanction has led to the use of the most severe sanction of the criminal justice system," said Frances Crook, the league's director.

Recent estimates suggest at least half of ASBOs are now served on young people, despite the initial intention that they should seldom be used in relation to young people, according to the league.

The case of Daisy, a 17-year-old deaf girl, is highlighted. She breached her ASBO, issued for spitting, and was taken to court where she was kept in the cells all day. She became extremely upset in the courtroom, threw a glass of water over a security officer, and spat at a magistrate. As a result she was remanded in custody and charged with new offences.

Daisy has now been in prison on remand for more than four weeks for the courtroom incident.

- www.howardleague.org.

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