Cherie attacks Blunkett plan

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Cherie Blair has backed fears that David Blunkett's plans to crack down on teenage yobbery represents an attack on the freedom of the young.

She joined delegates who denounced provisions in the Home Secretary's flagship Anti-Social Behaviour Bill enabling police to break up groups of youngsters aged under 16 or to take them home if they are found out alone in public after 9pm. The Bill is going through the Lords.

The plans were criticised by most activists in a survey conducted by the Children's Society at the conference.

A total of 77 per cent said they were concerned that young people would be unable to enjoy the same freedom they had as a child, and more than half called for local communities to be consulted before police were given these new powers. Nine out of 10 admitted that as teenagers they met up with friends in public places and went home alone after 9pm.

Mrs Blair, a human rights lawyer, replied "yes" to all the questions. Three years ago, her son Euan was picked up by police in London after getting drunk to celebrate the end of his exams.

The measures have been denounced by children's groups as in effect imposing a curfew on teenagers and as a potential breach of their human rights.