Punishment for young offenders

Some crimes are not suitable to be punishable by prison, community service or a court fine. These fines relate to young people, and their parents. If a child continuously misbehaved at school enough to be excluded more than twice or persistently truants or commits a crime in the community, a court can issue the child's parents with a parenting order which states they must attend parenting classes. They will also be made to ensure their child meets a sort of licence such as meetings with the school and being at home at certain times.

Parenting orders have been successful in the UK with around 90% of parents praising their effectiveness. They also display the importance of a child's behaviour and if there are any problems within the household, this scheme may highlight these and provide a solution. ASBOs are anti social behaviour orders and can be given to any person over the age of 10 years old for frequently showing anti social behaviours such as harassment and violence. These orders state only negative obligations and shows how the offender must not behave.

To give an ASBO the courts must perform a two-stage test according to the Crime and Disorder act of 1998. This must firstly show that the 'defendant has committed acts causing or likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress within six months of the date of issue of the summons', and secondly 'that an order is necessary to protect persons from further anti-social behaviour' The ASBO can prohibit offenders from public places or towns and if they continue with their anti social behaviour the offender could expect to be imprisoned for unto five years, or if the offender is under 16, the court must make a Parenting Order.

Offenders who need further help managing their behaviour or dependencies on drugs or alcohol could be subject to a Individual support order which is tailored for offenders aged up to 17 years and provide treatment for drugs, alcohol and anger problems. If an ISO is broken, the offender's parents are fined. ASBOs have faced critics which have been highlighted by the media. ASBOs have been noted for being easy to obtain by the courts, in 2005 it was noted only 3% of ASBOs get rejected but 2002 data from the Home Office stated almost half (44%) of people receiving an ASBO in England had a problem with substances and 16% had behavioural problems.

This suggests that cases are not considered well enough, for instance in Manchester the council was forced to pay i?? 2,000 compensation in July 2007 for wrongly giving an ASBO on the grounds of a neighbour's complaints. ASBOs can also lower morale for offenders. It presents a stereotype of the person which can be hard to shift. This could affect family life, school life and future employment and could lead to further serious issues. Punishments for young offenders are generally successful however in some cases it is the parent who is punished, not the offender.

There is no evidence to say that ASBOs are reducing crime, as per the breach levels and being prohibited from visiting a certain street will do nothing to stop that individual committing crime. However the implemented curfew in so many ASBOs does give a feeling of safety to the community the offender has befouled. 

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