Instant fines for 10-year-old yobs

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The Independent Online

Children as young as 10 caught behaving anti-socially will be fingerprinted and have their DNA sampled before being marched home to their parents for an instant £30-£40 fine in a scheme to be launched next month.

Children as young as 10 caught behaving anti-socially will be fingerprinted and have their DNA sampled before being marched home to their parents for an instant £30-£40 fine in a scheme to be launched next month.

The plan is part of Tony Blair's "respect" agenda, which is targeting anti-social behaviour among the young. Penalty notices will be issued for nuisance crimes such as vandalism, harassing neighbours and dropping litter.

A spokesman for the Home Office said last night that it would allow the police to deal with youth crime "quickly and firmly while at the same time sending a message to parents".

Police are hoping that the scheme will cut out paperwork and save time. Currently, offenders under the age of 16 are subject to anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos), which require complicated paperwork and a court hearing. The new penalty notices will be recorded on the police national computer but will not count as a criminal conviction.

Parents will be legally liable to pay the fines and those who refuse will have the money deducted from earnings or benefits. Continued non-payment could lead to household goods being seized or jail.

Fines of up to £80 for adults, known as Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) were introduced three years ago by the Home Office and were extended to 16- to 18-year-olds last year. Critics say that 30 per cent of adult on-the-spot fines are never paid. The Home Office's extension of the scheme to 10- to 15-year-olds will initially be tested in seven areas around the country.

Five years ago, the Prime Minister suggested a scheme to march youths to cash-points to collect instant fines. He backed down from the proposal within days, after the policy was widely derided.