July 21, 2005


Curfew zones are found to be illegal (Sandra Laville, The Guardian, July 21, 2005)

A high court judge demolished a key plank of the government's crusade against yob culture yesterday by ruling it illegal for children to be forcibly removed from curfew zones.

Lord Justice Brooke found in favour of a boy aged 15, from Ham, south-west London, who claimed that the antisocial behaviour powers amounted to a breach of his human rights.

Under the 2003 Anti Social Behaviour Act, any unaccompanied under 16s going into a curfew zone while the ban was in force - between 9pm and 6am - faced a police escort home, whether or not they were suspected of bad behaviour.

The boy, known only as W in court, challenged the powers, with the support of the group Liberty, because he feared that the police could pounce on him as he went about his business, either to the local Tesco or to his band practice. He is one of a group of teenagers around the country who are seeking to challenge the new anti social behaviour law.

The judge said yesterday it would be illegal under the act for a police officer to forcibly take a youngster home. Police can ask children under the age of 16 to go home but they cannot make them obey, he said.

A rarely-heard argument against judicial activism is that judges are almost always chosen from the upper middle classes and too many of them are quite prepared to sacrifice the health and safety of those further down the social ladder to further their own class interests.

Posted by Peter Burnet at July 21, 2005 6:10 AM

Let me see if I've got this straight...a policeman cannot make a juvenile obey him?

That is insane!

Posted by: Bartman at July 21, 2005 8:35 AM

When school busing to achieve integration was all the rage, the judges who would order it all had either only adult children or sent their kids to private schools.

The notion that in a situation, where street crime by youth is an issue, that the municipality cannot enforce a youth curfew is just plain nuts. And here I thought I was the company Libertarian.

Posted by: bart at July 21, 2005 8:54 AM


From a casual google search of
"Boston" + "Segregation"...

"The plan mixed the white children from the mostly Irish working-class neighborhood of South Boston--where the opposition to desegregation was fierce--with the black children from Roxbury, the heart of the city's black ghetto. It was like striking a match in a warehouse full of dynamite. The decision of judge Garrity, whose own white suburban neighborhood of Wellesley was not affected, created repercussions that would be felt by generations of Bostonians."

Posted by: J.H. at July 21, 2005 9:39 AM

I'll weigh in as another libertarian and say I don't agree that this law violates civil liberties. Certainly the libertarian views I'm familiar with strongly distinguishes between children and adults in terms of rights and responsibilities.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 21, 2005 10:42 AM


And besides, we can always impose stern social sanctions, no?

(Sorry, it's the first day of my vacation and I just couldn't resist.)

Posted by: Peter B at July 21, 2005 11:38 AM

In today's world, everyone is an adult with respect to rights, noone is an adult with respect to responsibilities. You should be free to start having sex at puberty, and you will never be expected to deal with any of sex's consequences no matter how old you get.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at July 21, 2005 1:07 PM

That argument may be 'rarely heard' in the context of bashing judicial activism, but it is not rarely heard in other contexts.

You should get out more.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at July 21, 2005 3:47 PM

Yes, Harry, I've met a few comrades in my time.

Posted by: Peter B at July 21, 2005 4:14 PM


Then I will forbear to bring up the issue that commenting on this weblog appears to be at the top of your list for exciting things to do in Canada while on vacation.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 21, 2005 4:55 PM


Be easy on him. He is vacationing IN CANADA. Exciting isn't part of the itinerary.

Posted by: bart at July 21, 2005 5:40 PM


You must really be old since you are starting to realize that libertarianism does not work.

Posted by: Vince at July 21, 2005 7:03 PM

On judges, the comrades were right, weren't they?

I mean, does history present any group of men whose behavior was more despicable than the Lords Chancellors of England?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at July 21, 2005 7:48 PM