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ASB plans could put vulnerable children at risk, says Barnardo’s,

Vulnerable children could be exposed to even greater danger if Government plans to curb anti-social behaviour go ahead, the UK’s biggest children’s charity has warned.

The Police 'direction power', proposed as part of the, More Effective Responses To Anti-Social Behaviour consultation, could see children returned to unsafe homes or pushed into potentially harmful situations if it is used without considering the risks.

Many children involved in anti-social behaviour are from highly disadvantaged backgrounds characterised by abuse, bereavement, educational difficulties or residence in high crime neighbourhoods.

Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

If police send children back to abusive or unsafe households or move them on without consideration for the reasons behind their anti-social behaviour they could be placed in greater danger."

Barnardo’s argues that it should be made compulsory for courts to ask for information about the home lives of children who are being sanctioned for anti-social behaviour to ascertain the likelihood of a young person being supported to change their ways.

Mrs Carrie continued:

If the Government really wants ‘effective responses’ to anti-social behaviour by children then it needs to know why the problems are happening in the first place.

"We need to treat the causes of crime, rather than put sticking plasters on the symptoms.

"There needs to be much better communication between Police and welfare services to ensure we are not putting children at risk and ultimately perpetuating the cycle of offending.

"That is not to say that young people shouldn’t face the consequences of their actions, but if we want to protect children we should be able to map welfare needs in communities, not just crime, while preventing offences rather than just reacting to them."

Barnardo’s is calling for social needs to be mapped to enable local authorities and communities to react to the causes of anti-social behaviour as well as the offences that are committed found through the proposed crime mapping.

Welfare mapping could act as a 'community trigger' for wider needs, such as:

  • number of children missing from education
  • number of children missing from home or care
  • number of children with drug and alcohol misuse
  • rate of domestic violence
  • number of children permanently excluded from school.

Notes to editors

Ask the government for a truly effective response to anti-social behaviour by taking part in Barnardo's Kids Inside campaign.

View the Home Office consultation, which continues until May 17. To view the direction power proposals go to page 22.

In September/October 2010 49 per cent of the young people Barnardo’s worked with who had been sexually exploited had also been reported missing.

Thirty per cent of 10 to 15-year-olds who reported committing anti-social behaviour had been victims themselves, in a 2006 Home Office survey.

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