Fair Play For Children
Promoting the Child's Right to Play since 1973 in the UK and Worldwide according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
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Curfew Watch is a Fair Play initiative to support childrens rights.



Would it be fair to ban every motorist in an area from driving for 90 days because two or three persistently broke the speed limit? Let's see a Government try it ....

By imposing a curfew on all children to maintain order for the misdeeds of individuals, that's effectively what is happening to children under The UK's Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003, described as one of the worst attacks on civil liberties in the UK this century. It almost certainly breaches the European Convention on Human Rights (now enacted in UK law under the Human Rights Act 1999) and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The law permits UK local authorities and police forces to impose a curfew on children aged under 16 in a designated area after 9pm, purely on grounds of age, if a police officer believes someone to be under the age of 16. That young person can be removed from the area, not because of what they may be doing but because of their age.. This may seem reasonable, as a measure to deter/prevent juvenile crime - but a curfew can be imposed on children the vast majority of whom have not committed any offence. It is a cardinal affront to civilised jurisprudence to punish a whole group for the alleged misdeeds of a small number of individuals within the group. There is no justification in terms of good youth and play practice, sound community relations, crime reduction, civil and children's rights for this draconian measure. Fair Play opposes the whole concept and asks everyone to think about its implications for civil liberties. Children are unempowered - this measure is the device of the bully, of the play-to-the-gallery mentality of the worst sort of politicians. It will be resented by the young - quite reasonably. It will harm community relations. No other group is being targeted to solve problems which some in those groups cause - not motorists for speeding, not men for curb-crawling etc.

Furthermore, a court case brought by "W", a young person of 14 ast the time, against Richmond-on-Thames and the Metropolitan Police for introducing such a curfew ended in W's favour. However, the Government has continued to press local authorities and police to introduce such age-discriminatory curfews.

The UK Government, having signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is supposed to consult children and young people about measures which will affect them. Needless to say, this has not been done.

The first 'curfew' power used in Britain was been a local bye-law in Hamilton, Scotland, brought in a few years back affecting under-16's. It was hailed as a success. Careful examination shows that it had a rough and unpopular reception from young people in its early days when the police adopted a heavy-handed approach. This has been severely modified and the key to improvement in local crime by the young may now be seen as more to do with both more visible policing at all times, better youth-police relations and a huge investment in facilities for the young. In other words, investing the resources whose absence over the years led to disaffected, bored and resentful young people. In any case, whether it 'works' or not, the issues of children's civil liberties take precedence.

A better solution is more investment in children's and young people's play and leisure resources at neighbourhood level - more adventure playgrounds, youth arts projects, fun buses, junior sports clubs, challenging holiday projects, after school clubs, summer playschemes, If the UK Home Secretary wants to listen, Fair Play can point him to many excellent examples, most of them cash-strapped after years of being the 'forgotten frontline warriors' in the struggle to build better environments for our young. This curfew nonsense is an affront to their struggle over the years, on next to nothing. We hope you may feel concerned enough to write to the Home Secretary, c/o House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or at The Home Office, London SW1

Our view also is that the decision as to when children should be home is best left with parents. Only where they neglect the welfare of their children - which can include when their children run the risk of committing crime or anti-social behaviour - should the police or state intervene, and there are adequate laws available to both to bring individual children into police or authority care which do not requite the declaration of mass youth curfews.

Please also contact national@fairplayforchildren.org if a curfew is introduced in your area - we will investigate the matter - the grounds for introduction, the consultation process, current facilities for the young, the complaints of young people and parents about discrimination. Fair Play will present its findings to other children's and civil liberties groups and seek joint action.

Children are being collectively punished - and parents have no say.

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