The Lancashire Evening Post has lost a legal battle to name a schoolboy ‘flasher’who stole a woman’s underwear and jumped out of bushes half naked.
The 15-year-old – who cannot be named – was given a three-year anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) for stripping off and performing ‘sex acts’in public in February last year.
But Preston Police, who originally applied for the Asbo, fought against the Evening Post’s appeal at Preston Youth Court to make his name public.
He is now the only person with an Asbo in Preston who cannot be named by the press and the paper’s journalists believe the move is ‘unprecedented’in the area.
Home Office guidelines state that those issued with the orders should be named.
According to a woman quoted in the Evening Post, whose identity is being kept secret, the boy entered her house and stole underwear while she was upstairs unaware.
He appeared before the city’s Youth Court charged with a criminal offence earlier last year and so was automatically anonymous under section 49 of the Children and Young Persons’ Act.
He then received a bolt-on Asbo – a civil matter not covered by section 49 – and could be named if the paper just reported those proceedings. But the paper did not have a reporter at the Asbo hearing and only heard about it via a police press release which also covered the terms of the Youth Court hearing, leaving the paper unable to name him.
Last Friday the paper’s attempts at appealing against the ID ban were turned down.
LEP deputy editor Mike Hill denounced the decision in a leader in the paper last week. He wrote: ‘Within days of being convicted of this offence he was arrested for outraging public decency. His crimes include hiding in gardens and jumping out on his female victims while performing a lewd act. He is clearly a menace.
‘Police have acknowledged as much by describing him as ‘plaguing’ women in a press release issued after his fourth offence.
‘And yet, in an unprecedented step, officers actively opposed him being identified by the Evening Post. They do not want him named as they believe he can reform. Let us hope they are right.”