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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, that is right. One considers the maximum under the sentencing regime. If it is three months' imprisonment, one can apply that to an adult, but the equivalent for a juvenile is a training order, which can be only for four months or more. So in the instance cited, a juvenile under the age of 18 cannot be sentenced to a training order, because that would be outwith what the court is allowed to do; so there must be a community order or fine. That is why I hope to have given the noble Baroness a little pleasure.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for that clarification; it gives me some comfort. However, I must observe that the Bill has an obscure way of saying that, although the way in which the Minister put it was clear and not at all obscure.

It is important that the courts should be encouraged to use community sentences, because they are clearly not doing so anywhere near as much as even the Government would want them to—certainly not as much as many people working with young people

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would like them to be used—instead of custodial sentences. However, in view of what the Minister said, for the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 58 to 60 not moved.]

Clause 36 [Interpretation]:

[Amendment No. 61 not moved.]

Clause 37 [Anti-social behaviour orders]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 62:

    Page 30, line 15, at end insert—

"(za) after paragraph (a) there is inserted—
"(aa) in relation to England, a county council;";"

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, highlighted the fact that at present, county councils cannot apply for anti-social behaviour orders. The power is currently available to the police, district councils and registered social landlords. That power has been requested by the County Councils Network and has again been proposed by the noble Lord in Amendment No. 63.

We saw the good sense of that. We have recognised that county councils have responsibilities that encompass tackling anti-social behaviour. Government Amendments Nos. 52, 64 and 65 therefore extend to county councils the power to apply for anti-social behaviour orders on the same basis as that for registered social landlords, the British Transport Police and, under the Bill, housing action trusts. I therefore ask the House to accept the government amendments. I beg to move.

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, it simply remains for me once again to thank the noble Baroness for having tabled the government amendments. Once again, they are welcome.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 63 not moved.]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendments Nos. 64 and 65:

    Page 30, line 20, after "acts)" insert "—

(a) after paragraph (a) there is inserted—
"(aa) in relation to a relevant authority falling within paragraph (aa) of subsection (1A), persons within the county of the county council;";
(b) " Page 31, line 10, at end insert—

"(6A) In section 1E (consultation requirements) after subsection (4) there is inserted—
"(5) Subsection (4)(a) does not apply if the relevant authority is a county council for a county in which there are no districts.""

On Question, amendments agreed to.

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Clause 38 [Certain orders made on conviction of offences]:

The Earl of Listowel moved Amendment No. 66:

    Page 32, leave out lines 7 to 16.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, the effect of the amendment is to strike out the provisions of Clause 38 relating to court reporting restrictions in the youth court. My intention is to retain the status quo: that automatic reporting restrictions are imposed in the youth court that can be lifted only if it is in the public interest to do so.

The principal intention behind my amendment is to ask the Minister for a firm undertaking that the impact on children and families who are identified to the press is monitored carefully. In Committee, the Minister was kind enough to say that she would find all the research that she could about that to assuage my concerns. Regrettably, the only research is that which she then cited, which considers solely the effectiveness of anti-social behaviour orders, not their impact on children and families.

Indeed, that research called for further research. It stated:

    "much of the information about the impact of anti-social behaviour orders remains anecdotal . . . in many areas partnerships were unable to say accurately what the outcome of their ASBOs had been . . . information is essential to decisions about whether an order is appropriate for similar kinds of behaviour in future, to establishing which conditions work best and to answer general questions about effectiveness".

It is that research for which I am calling.

The same report also expressed concern at what happens when national newspapers pick up the information passed to local newspapers, such as a "shop a yob" campaign by one local newspaper adopted in the past month by the Sun. The photographs of several young people aged 12 years or above were pictured in the Sun with their names and details of their behaviour. The majority of those young people had received anti-social behaviour orders. In Committee, the noble Baroness agreed that, sadly, many young people about whose behaviour we are concerned lack adequate nurture. I wonder whether the Sun is the right place to make up that deficit.

In child abuse cases, principal care takers often style the child whom they are looking after as bad, evil or a demon. As noble Lords know, Victoria Climbies care taker took her to a local evangelical church to exorcise the demon that she believed to be in the child. Noble Lords may be aware of the case in the United States of David Pelzer, who had a very sad history of abuse. He described in his autobiography how his mother singled him out as the bad boy among his siblings. He became the centre of all her ill intent and the black sheep of the family.

One of several concerns for many is the danger of perpetuating in broader society what is begun in the family. The children are bad at home, they become bad in their neighbourhoods, they develop a pariah status among their peers and adults, and finally they are named and photographed in the local newspaper,

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which is a certificate of their badness and failure. The adult world inadvertently colludes with what began in the dysfunctional family at the start of the child's life.

Recently, I attended the weekly assembly of a special school, where children were presented with certificates that stated: "I have not hurt another child this week". Abused and neglected children received particular attention from the school for their positive restraint in not hitting other children. The head of another school, with a very prestigious history of that type of work with such children, described the publication in newspapers of the photograph, address and details of children's anti-social acts as a certificate of failure. He was appalled by it.

Another practitioner, the founder of a therapeutic community for abused children, took into her care a 14 year-old boy who had been branded by the press with a nickname that denoted him as a verminous rodent. He had settled into the home and seemed to be making progress when the press arrived on the doorstep and he had to be moved on for the sake of the other children.

On another concern, this morning I spoke to a Cheshire magistrate who is a member of a youth panel. He remembered that, two years ago, a boy was stripped naked and tied to a lamp post in the locality as a warning about his behaviour. The magistrate said that his behaviour would not have warranted any action by a court, but the local estate so objected to it that they did to him what I described.

Recently, in the Observer, one family described their experience of intimidation by local people, who told one boy that if he stepped out of line again he would be six feet under. There is also a danger that by publishing such information one might encourage such vigilantism, which we saw in the case of people concerned about paedophiles.

The Minister may observe, as she did previously, that ASBOs tend to be given to children at the end of a long history of highly anti-social behaviour. I regret that the interventions that should exist to protect these children, and the rest of us, are lacking. There has been chronic under-investment in necessary services. In the past 20 years, the youth service has shrunk by 20 per cent. A local Social Exclusion Unit report underlined in particular the availability of child and adolescent mental health services, which is very important. There may be a 12 to 18-month wait before a child can see a clinician.

The key finding of the Government's report on how to improve services for children and families, Every Child Matters, is that the workforce supporting families and children has been neglected over many years. The main effort must be to rebuild that workforce. There are measures to protect such children and to protect us from them, as well as protecting their families. I am afraid that the extreme measures promoted in the Bill are another reflection of our inability to break free from the history of neglect of such vulnerable children and families.

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I do not wish to tire your Lordships' House—I have already spoken for eight minutes. I recognise the sincerity of the Government's intentions in this respect. Sometimes some of the acts that we most regret are those carried out in the process towards achieving our highest ideals. Some means of reaching the ends that we all desire are unjustifiable. All that I ask, as I asked ministerial officials several times and I asked in Committee, is for an undertaking to monitor the impact of that highly controversial publicity in the press. I look forward to the Minister's response. I beg to move.

4.15 p.m.

Baroness Linklater of Butterstone: My Lords, I support the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, on this amendment. We return to the subject, which was discussed in Committee, because we continue to feel that this is not the right way to achieve the desired result of reducing anti-social behaviour. It carries with it the risk of far greater and more damaging negative outcomes than positive ones.

I am perfectly clear that, under the Bill, courts will retain the discretion to impose reporting restrictions where an ASBO has been imposed. But I have yet to hear a convincing argument why the current situation of automatic reporting restrictions under Section 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 should not still apply, with the court using its discretion on when to lift them.

The Minister said in Committee that that was to remove the anomaly of the difference in reporting restrictions between the magistrates' court and the youth court, and so to bring them in line with each other. Yet, in the companion to the Green Paper Every Child Matters, entitled Youth Justice—The Next Steps, the first sentence of the section entitled "Basic Approach" is:

    "When children and young people do become involved in crime we would continue to operate a distinct youth justice system broadly on present lines, with a clear and visible response to offending behaviour from age 10 upwards".

I have always regarded it as axiomatic that the approach to children and offending and the criminal justice system must be clearly differentiated from that relating to adults, from a philosophical, practical and humane point of view. That is what the youth justice system is predicated on. Children are not small adults. Why, therefore, do such principles not apply when it comes to ASBOs?

However, another Home Office document on ASBOs states:

    "But the imposition of reporting restrictions may restrict the effectiveness of the order if the effectiveness of the ASBO will largely depend on the wider community knowing the details".

That argument for reporting details immediately risks breaching Article 40 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which asserts the obligation to respect the child's right to privacy,

    "at all stages of the proceedings".

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Nor is it in the best interests of children and young people as defined in Article 3 of the UNCRC.

The distinction between the approach of the youth courts and that of the magistrates' courts must be retained if justice is truly to be done. The welfare principle under the Children Act must have a place in the application of any sanction, and the potential harm of naming and shaming must also be taken into account.

In Committee, the Minister quoted anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of publicity on reducing the anti-social behaviour of some young people. There is also anecdotal evidence the other way, as we have already heard from the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. In one case, reported in the Observer two weeks ago, alleged vigilante attacks were made on the boys in question. In others, publicity led to young people being stigmatised in the community.

I am sure that the Government could not have envisaged the campaign that the Sun newspaper launched to "Shop a Yob", which has been identifying children all over the country, some as young as 12. That is the antithesis of responsible, local community involvement; it is vigilantism of the press. It is very difficult and dangerous to use publicity in this way because people interpret and react to information in an extremely unpredictable way. When difficult, dysfunctional and often disturbed youngsters are concerned, whose behaviour is indeed unpleasant and intimidating, the risks are magnified. Such children are rarely shamed or humiliated into positive social behaviour. They are not only demonised by the process in the eyes of some, they could equally become anti-heroes in the eyes of others. Neither is desirable, and, clearly, that is not what is intended.

What is really needed is an evaluation and further research into the effectiveness of ASBOs in reducing anti-social behaviour—just as the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said—and into what effect press reporting has on young people and the community. Only then should consideration be given to the possibility of lifting reporting restrictions on the young people who are given ASBOs. ASBOs do indeed have opportunities attached, both in stopping the behaviour and removing it from a particular place—thus reassuring local people—and identifying particular troublemakers. However, ASBOs must be enforced within the context of a multi-disciplinary approach that also addresses the causes of such behaviour to ensure a positive outcome for both the young person and the community. That is the essential corollary without which the outcome is likely to be negative and the strong arm of the law a purely punitive arm without any balancing support. Only with such support do ASBOs have the chance of achieving the sort of results that we all seek.

I have just received a letter from the Minister in response to my request for more information on the recent government initiatives that form part of the thinking expressed in the Green Paper. It makes impressive reading and I thank her for the letter. The

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£250 million investment in the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service Network is greatly to be welcomed, as is the proportion of the Children's Fund for crime reduction. I sincerely hope that the YISPs produce the outcomes that are intended and the plans for the Connexions partnerships for vulnerable eight to 19 year-olds.

We have sought to argue this in various parts of this Bill. The opportunities offered in this area will be realised only when connections are routinely made between police intervention and other agencies—social services departments, schools, health and other agencies, including some of the initiatives that I have mentioned—as a requirement. That will require massively more resources than the Minister has mentioned, especially for the statutory agencies. Will she give us some assurance on the matter? Otherwise, I fear that the best intentions of the Government in this area will be lost.

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