Fines for yobs in new crackdown
CHILDREN as young as 10 who misbehave could find themselves hit with fixed penalty fines in a bid to crack down on yobbish behaviour. Essex Police are one of seven forces across the country introducing charges of up to £40 for offences such as dropped litter and swearing in public.
CHILDREN as young as 10 who misbehave could find themselves hit with fixed penalty fines in a bid to crack down on yobbish behaviour.
Essex Police are one of seven forces across the country introducing charges of up to £40 for offences such as dropped litter and swearing in public.
It is hoped the fines, which have to be paid within 21 days, will stamp out anti-social behaviour and reduce the amount of time petty offenders take up in the court system.
But if the youngsters cannot pay, their parents would automatically have to foot the bill and could even find themselves hauled in front of magistrates if it remained outstanding.
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Yesterday, the crackdown was hailed as a way of taking back the streets from unruly yobs but there was a more cautionary response from the younger generation, questioning how children could be made to feel responsible if they had little chance of paying a fine.
Essex Police said they would only be issuing the notices in minor, straightforward cases while repeat offenders would be subject to more serious consequences.
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The fixed penalty notices will be either £30 or £40 and can be imposed on 10 to 15-year-olds in the county.
Terry Allen, leader of Tendring District Council, said he was in favour of the penalties because he believed they would make parents take responsibility for unruly youngsters.
“This will probably concentrate the minds of parents if their children are mucking about, causing disturbances and carrying out anti-social behaviour.
“These proposals will be hitting them in the pockets and if they have lost control of the kids, there are so many agencies out there that they can seek help from.
“They will be supported if they cannot manage their own children, but you cannot get away from the fact that they are their own children and they are responsible for them up to a certain age.
“I am in favour and really feel they need to get a grip of what is going on.”
But Danny Mayzes,a youth councillor on the Young Essex Assembly, suggested the penalty should be geared to the age of the offender.
The 17-year-old from Clacton said: “It seems like a good idea to stop young people from committing crime, but it is silly because if you have a 10-year-old who does not earn any money it will be the parents who have to pay.
“So it may not stop them if they know they will not be having to pay it, so they could bring in different amounts for each age range – such as £10 for a 10-year-old to force them to start thinking responsibly about any crimes they commit.”
A police spokeswoman said: “We already issue fixed penalty notices to adults and our officers have found them to be a useful tool when dealing with minor offences.
“The new pilot means we can now apply similar penalties to young people who are caught offending.
“We hope that this will serve as a deterrent to stop children re-offending and thereby reduce levels of minor crime.”