The draft Anti-social Behaviour Bill: pre-legislative scrutiny - Home Affairs Committee Contents

Young people

36.  The anti-social behaviour prevention regime has always leant heavily toward young people: 40% of ASBOs are issued to 10-17 year olds, who comprise only 13% of the population. The breach rate by children and young people subject to ASBOs is 68%, compared to 52% of adults, suggesting that ASBOs have not been effective in changing behaviour in most cases.[42] Furthermore, custody has been used as a sanction for breach by 10-17 year olds in 38% of breach cases.[43] The IPNA, the CBO and the dispersal power all carry a potential penalty of imprisonment for non-compliance.[44]

37.  ASB among young people is a complex matter. Young people are often both the victims and perpetrators, and those who are victims are more likely to become perpetrators themselves.[45] This can have a knock on effect in other areas such as negative education outcomes and the likelihood of gang membership.[46]

38.  The British Crime Survey showed that "teenagers hanging around" has been the issue that generates the most continuous concern amongst the public.[47] Similarly, the Children's Society reported that there are "many cases in which complaints about ASB have turned out to be general intolerance for young people […] playing football in the park and spending time with friends".[48]

39.  The new measures will bring young people further into the remit of ASB powers to a significant extent. The Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNA) may be issued against children aged 10 and over, in contrast to the ASBI, which can only be used against adults aged 18 and over.[49] The breach of the IPNA will be a civil matter—and young people would no longer face a criminal record for a breach, as they did under the ASBO. They will only enter the criminal justice system if there is a power of arrest attached to the order and the injunction is then breached, or if a warrant is issued under clause 9.[50] However, the Government has said it will continue to consider whether a custodial sentence should be available for breach of an Injunction by a young person.[51]
Youth anti-social behaviour

We heard cases of curmudgeonly intolerance for young people, but also very serious cases where young people's behaviour crossed a line into anti-social behaviour, sometimes mixed with criminal behaviour. One constituent in Houghton and Sunderland South described a combination of vandalism and criminal damage, with littering and drinking and the way it could change the character of a community area: "Youths drinking lager/cider/cheap wine in the surrounding countryside ( land between Hastings Hill and Herrington). They smash bottles and litter the area with cans creating a no-go area for dog walkers and the local residents. The same areas are regularly used by fly tippers. The majority of the destruction and vandalism is carried away from view, so damage only becomes visible when we pass through the area or when children and pets are injured."

Ev w101 [Bridget Phillipson MP]

40.  We heard that the incorporation of positive requirements in CBOs was likely to lead to an even higher breach rate, making it even more likely to push more young people into the criminal justice system and custody.[52] This could have a long-lasting effect on children's identity and future prospects.[53] Justice, Barnardo's, the Standing Committee on Youth Justice and the Children's Society, among others, did not support the use of CBOs for children and young people under 18.[54]

41.  These groups advocated informal measures such as Acceptable Behaviour Agreements, restorative justice, welfare measures and out-of-court disposals and support for children and families as an alternative intervention.[55] Moreover, the National Audit Office found that ASB warning letters and ABCs cost less than a tenth of the £3,100 required for each ASBO application.[56]

42.  Although young people are disproportionately responsible for crime and a significant proportion of the caseload in the criminal justice system, young people are also most likely to desist from crime and "grow out" of poor behaviour with the right support.[57]

43.  Anti-social behaviour measures must be a short, focused nudge for young people to set them on the right track, not a millstone that will weigh around their necks for years to come. The bill must include an annual review of all formal ASB interventions imposed on under-18s to ensure that restrictions are not continued unnecessarily if behaviour has changed.

44.  For under-18s, IPNAs should be available for a maximum of 12 months and should only be available after attempts to resolve the issue through informal support and acceptable behaviour agreements have failed.


45.  Under draft Bill, section 49 Children and Young Persons Act 1933, which restricts reports on proceedings in which young people are concerned, would not apply to proceedings involving IPNAs or CBOs.[58] Where there are proceedings for breach of a CBO, the court is permitted to use its discretion to restrict reporting, but if it does, it must provide reasons for doing so.[59]

46.  Witnesses were concerned that this would be contrary to the presumption of anonymity for children in criminal proceedings and likely to hinder their successful rehabilitation.[60] They questioned whether this would be contrary to the right to privacy in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), to which the UK is a signatory. The Standing Committee on Youth Justice said there were many instances where young people had struggled to gain employment and housing as a consequence of being "named and shamed" during or after court proceedings.[61]

47.  Young people's sense of identity can be influenced by labels at a formative stage in their lives. ASBOs have been both a stigma and a badge of honour because of their infamy—both can undermine the effectiveness of the intervention. However, we are happy to leave the decision not to name a young person to the discretion of the judge, as envisaged by the draft bill.

42   Ministry of Justice, Anti-Social Behaviour Order Statistics - England and Wales 2011 (2012), Table 11. Back

43   Ministry of Justice, Anti-Social Behaviour Order Statistics - England and Wales 2011 (2012), Table 11. Of the 58,198 total breach occasions, 38.7% (22,516) resulted in a custodial sentence. The average sentence length was 4.1 months. Back

44   Ev 48 [SCYJ], paragraph 10 Back

45   Victim Support, Hoodie or Goodie, September 2007 Back

46   Ev w18 [Catch22], paragraph 3.12; Ev w40 [Transition to Adulthood Alliance] Back

47   Ev 48 [SCYJ] Back

48   Ev 48 [SCYJ], paragraph 15; Children's Society (2011), The Children's Society's response to the Home Office consultation 'More Effective Responses to Anti-Social Behaviour, p5 Back

49   Ev 34 [National Housing Federation], paragraph 6.1 Back

50   Ev 42, Ev 45 [LGA], paragraph 7.3 Back

51   Ev 34 [National Housing Federation], paragraph 6.3; EV w27 [Catch22], paragraph 3.13; Impact Assessment: Reform of the anti-social behaviour toolkit, Home Office, p.10: Back

52   Ev w96 [Justice], paragraphs 32-33 Back

53   Ev 42, 45 [LGA], paragraph 4.4 Back

54   Ev 48 [SCYJ], summary; Ev w96 [Justice], paragraphs 32-33 Back

55   Ev w96 [Justice], paragraphs 32-33 Back

56   Ev 48 [SCYJ], paragraph 5;

National Audit Office (2006), cited in The Independent Commission for Youth Crime and Antisocial Behaviour, Time for a fresh start, London: The Police Foundation, p67 Back

57   Ev w40 [Transition to Adulthood Alliance], executive summary; Ev w62 [Buckinghamshire Count Council], paragraph 2.6; Ev 48 [SCYJ], paragraph 11 Back

58   Clauses 17 and 22(8)(a), draft Bill Back

59   Clause 28(6), draft Bill Back

60   Ev 48 [SCYJ], paragraph 4; Ev w96 [Justice], paragraph 22; Ev w77 [Mark Dziecielewski] Back

61   Ev 48 [SCYJ], paragraph 12 Back

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Prepared 15 February 2013