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Baroness Walmsley: I am most grateful to the Minister for spelling the matter out so clearly, and for giving a clear reassurance from the Dispatch Box that custodial sentences will not be used for young people. I am sure that the children's organisations will be as reassured as I am. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 164 and 165 are quite important. Amendment No. 164 would ensure that the police would consult both county and district councils, where both exist, in relation to consideration of dispersal orders. In two-tier local government areas, county councils deliver many key services such as youth offending teams, youth work, social services, education and highways. They are therefore heavily involved in the consequences of the orders, and of course in doing their best to prevent the need for those orders. It therefore seems entirely reasonable that, where two-tier government exists, county councils should be consulted. I hope that the Government will consider that very seriously.
One could argue that the Bill had been drafted in anticipation of our having regional government and unitary authorities across the country. However, there will be a considerable interregnum before that unhappy situation comes about. In the meantime, the county councils are entitled to be consulted as major providers of services in relation to the young people concerned.
Amendment No. 165 would extend the power to apply for an anti-social behaviour order to county councils. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 created anti-social behaviour orders. In two-tier local government areas, the order then could be applied for only by district councils or the police service. Subsequent legislation has extended the power to the transport police and registered social landlords. We think it would be reasonable to extend the power to county councils in view of the relationship between county and district councils, and in view of the fact that county councils are heavily committed to service
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I agree with the noble Lord that they are important amendments and their effect has been expertly described. Amendment No. 164 requires the police to consult both the county and district councils before granting authorisation for the use of dispersal powers. Amendment No. 165 seeks simplyI say "simply" in parenthesisto add county councils to the list of relevant authorities which can apply for an anti-social behaviour order.
The Government recognise that county councils have an important role to play in tackling anti-social behaviour and that a number of counties are keen to be pro-active in that area. The amendments would, on the face of it, certainly assist county councils in fulfilling their role. However, we wish to be satisfied that the process involved would not be overly bureaucraticI have expressed that concern beforeor land local authorities and the police service with disproportionate and undue financial burdens. Cost is an important consideration.
Nevertheless, I am happy to give the propositions further thought and we will return to them at a later stage. We accept the points made by the noble Lord and the noble Baroness and wish to give them further consideration because they are important.
I am struck slightly by the irony that the noble Baroness can support the extension of ASBOs to county councils, but has argued against the clause in its entirety. I am sure that she can live with that
Baroness Walmsley: I live in the real world. We on these Benches may not prevail in the end. Should that unfortunately be the case, we would wish to see the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, in the Bill.
Lord Dixon-Smith: I am genuinely grateful to the noble Lord for his response and for offering to give further consideration to the amendments. I was aware that there was a financial concern, although it must be
The noble Baroness said: I rise to propose Amendment No. 166 and to speak to Amendment No. 167, which, as Members of the Committee will have noticed, is virtually identical and extends the proposed deletion to Clause 38(4).
The amendment relates to the provision in the Bill which states that, where an ASBOan anti-social behaviour orderhas been imposed by the youth court, the automatic reporting restrictions which currently apply under Section 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 should be lifted. While the court retains the discretion to apply reporting restrictions in individual cases, the balance has been reversed from what currently obtains, where reporting is automatically restricted unless the court decides otherwise.
The intention of the clause is to make public the details of a young person who is subject to an ASBO, including his or her name, address and school, and so on, with a view to "naming and shaming", to use that unattractive phrase. Not only is the phrase unattractive but so is the motive. Children are rarely shamed into good social behaviour, and I know of no objective or convincing evidence that treating young people in this way and publishing their offence and subsequent order has the effect of deterring future offending behaviour.
I understand that the intention in the Bill is to reassure the community that action is being taken against such young people, and the public will be encouraged to make complaints and inform the police of breaches. But equally well it could increase fear of crime by heightening public awareness. Indeed, there is ample anecdotal evidence that it is more likely to have the detrimental effect of stigmatising the child within the community, impacting on the whole family, including younger siblings, whose vulnerability, as we have already discussed, should also be borne in mind, and impeding community relationsnot to speak of
In short, the anonymity of children under 18 should be protected both in their interest and, equally importantly, in the interest of the community as well, unless there is a real issue of public safety. I hope that the Government will seriously reconsider this aspect of the process of the youth court in the interests of the community as well as of the offender, rather than pursue this negative and potentially damaging change. We must look to positive and constructive ways of reducing anti-social behaviour, and I believe that this is not one of them. I beg to move.
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