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Anonymity to be removed on ASBOs, says Home Secretary

Moves to end automatic reporting restrictions on young people subject to anti-social behaviour orders have been announced by the Home Secretary, David Blunkett.

The proposals form part of the Anti-Social Behaviour White Paper Respect and Responsibility.

It would mean newspapers no longer having to put forward their case for identification of youngsters when the orders – a civil action usually taken by local authorities – are made. At the moment magistrates ban identification during hearings at youth courts when ASBOs are breached, simply because of the offender’s age.

The White Paper states as one of its proposals: “Removing automatic newspaper reporting restrictions on young people subject to anti-social behaviour orders, to send a clear message that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and to enable local people to identify breaches.”

Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell welcomed the development.

He said: “We welcome any steps to help the public identify young people who make life unbearable.

“Editors have campaigned to lift anonymity when anti-social behaviour orders are made.

“Many have successfully argued for lifting of reporting restrictions in court.

“By their very nature, ASBOs should be made public so that we can all help make them effective.

“Young people who make mistakes should be given a second chance. That is why the courts protect their identity.

“But persistent offenders and extreme cases of loutish behaviour increase the fear of crime.

“How can the public help to stamp it out of they do not know who the offenders are?”

In his announcement yesterday, the Home Secretary said: “Too often, the lives of the law-abiding majority in a community are made a misery by the irresponsibility, disrespect and loutishness of a selfish minority.

“Anti-social behaviour can undermine people’s health and destroy family life. It can also hold back the regeneration of disadvantaged communities, creating an environment in which crime can take hold.

“Where enforcement is poor and anti-social behaviour goes unpunished, lawlessness grows and criminals know they can get away with it.”

The legislation will also tackle begging, ban air weapons and replica guns from public places, give local authorities powers to tackle fly-tipping and ban the sale of spray paints to under 18s – all measures that regional newspapers have been campaigning for.

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