Court Judgment on Government’s ‘Anti-Yob’/ Anti-Child Policy

11 May 2006

In July 2005 the High Court ruled that the curfew power of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 could not have been intended to include the right to use force. Today’s ruling states that the Police do have the right to use force, but only to remove children who are involved in, or at risk from, actual or imminently anticipated bad behaviour.
Liberty represented the boy ‘W’ in opposing the arbitrary nature of this curfew power and to protect the right of everyone, no matter what their age, not to be subjected to coercive powers without good cause.
Alex Gask, Liberty Legal Officer, said:
"My client is very pleased with this outcome. The Court of Appeal has made it clear that this power can no longer be used as a curfew. Only where people under 16s are at risk or are causing harassment, alarm or distress, can the police step in to take them home. No longer must he and other well behaved young people worry about being criminalised simply for being out past 9pm on warm summer evenings."
Liberty Press Office on 0207 378 3656 or 07973 831 128
The Court of Appeal handed down their judgement in the case of ‘W’ on today, Thursday 11th May 2006, at 9.30am.
Lord Justice May made the following points on the judgement:
“The sub section (Section 30 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003) does not confer an arbitrary power to remove children who are not involved in, or at risk from exposure to, actual or imminently anticipated anti-social behaviour”.
“Furthermore, the Secretary of State accepts that the discretionary power can only be used if, in the light of its purpose, it is reasonable to do so; and the Commissioner accepts that, to act reasonably, constables must have regard to circumstances such as how young the child is; how late at night it is; whether the child is vulnerable or in distress; the child’s explanation for his or her conduct and presence in the area; and the nature of the actual or imminently anticipated anti-social behaviour.”