Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I choose not to sit in the Youth Court, but sometimes the adult bench has to deal with a youth (i.e. under 18) if they have just been arrested and there is no qualified youth bench available that day. We will just remand them over to the next available Youth Court sitting, and decide whether to bail them.

Back at the beginning of the year we saw a young man of just 15 who had been picked up for the third breach of his ASBO. The breach involved his being in the company of a similarly ASBOed youth who shared his proclivity for theft, fighting, criminal damage and general mayhem. There was no suggestion that he had committed any offence other than the breach of the ASBO conditions.

He sat in the custody dock wearing the blank expression that feral young men adopt in the face of authority when it has become imprudent to adopt the foul-mouthed aggressive approach that they adopt when in street-corner groups.

His solicitor (who must have mixed feelings about a lad who brings in such good and regular business from the Legal Aid fund) spoke warmly on his behalf, stressing that he had not misbehaved, other than by being in company that was specifically forbidden by his ASBO. "I have behind me two aggrieved parents" he declared, gesturing at the couple sitting a couple of rows back, and went on to say how unfair they thought the police had been in arresting their son and heir.

That word 'aggrieved' made me think. Perhaps if the parents had diverted a little of their well-honed sense of grievance to their son's behaviour during the years of truanting and eventual exclusion from school there might have been no ASBO and no arrest. He might even be able to read and write as well.

He's a victim all right, but not in the way that the parents think.

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