'Inappropriate' Asbos risk harming children for life, says top adviser

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Anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) could prove "catastrophic" to children's prospects if they are not properly applied, the Government's new children's commissioner has warned.

Professor Al Aynsley-Green said inappropriate Asbos could be damaging to young people and they should be a last resort.

He made his comments as part of an investigation by the BBC 1 series Panorama, which highlights cases of interim orders being imposed on children without any formal warning.

The programme highlighted the case of a teenager who was arrested 24 times because he did not understand the conditions of the order. His mother told the BBC that he set fire to himself, bit his arm through to the bone and tried to hang himself as a result of his Asbo.

Professor Aynsley-Green told the programme: "If the Asbo is inappropriate, if it's not proportionate, if it's not just, if the Asbo is breached, then there is a risk of that child or young person having a criminal record.

"That could be catastrophic for their life chances with employment and so on.

"Surely it's not fair or just to apply an order on a young person who can't understand the implications of the order. What that person needs is support ... to be able to cope with their behaviour, not be punished and criminalised as a consequence."

Panorama: Asbos on Trial, BBC 1, Sunday, 10.15pm

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