Local newspapers will be free to name teenage hooligans in the Government’s latest crackdown on anti-social behaviour.
Vigorous campaigning by the regional press over naming youngsters under anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) has prompted the move by the Home Office.
In a White Paper issued on Wednesday, the Home Office states it is proposing to lift court reporting restrictions for cases involving under-18s subject to an ASBO.
Currently, the press is not allowed to name young offenders who breach the civil court order and land up in a youth court on a criminal charge.
Frustrated regional newspapers have repeatedly challenged automatic reporting restrictions in youth courts.
The Home Office believes publicity is key to the effectiveness of ASBOs. The press will be able to report young offenders’ names on conviction, according to the White Paper.
In the period from September 1999 to September 2002, Manchester City Council had obtained 28 ASBOs, Lancashire County Council 25 and Birmingham City Council 22.
Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell said: “We welcome any steps to help the public identify young people who make life unbearable. Editors have campaigned to lift anonymity when ASBOs are made.
“Usually young people who make mistakes deserve a second chance. That is why the courts protect their identities.
“But persistent offending and extreme cases of loutish behaviour increase the fear of crime. How can the public help to stamp it out if they do not know who the offenders are?”
By Jean Morgan and David Rose