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Unsupervised Children

Volume 301: debated on Thursday 27 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research undertaken by his Department has identified a problem of unsupervised under-10-years-olds being on the streets at night; if he will publish that research; and if he will make a statement. [17774]

There is considerable research within the Home Office and elsewhere which indicates those influences which are strongest on young people, particularly in relation to commencement of offending. One of the strongest of these is poor parental supervision. This was dealt with in some detail in the 1995 Home Office Research Paper 145 "Young people and crime". The need for more responsible parenting is supported in a survey which was carried out for the Audit Commission in 1996 for its report "Streetwise Effective Police Patrol". Similar surveys for that report also revealed that there was a public concern about the need to deal with issues of juvenile nuisance and anti-social behaviour.The objectives of the Government's youth justice reform programme seek, amongst other things, to address these concerns. That is why one of the measures in the reform programme is the proposal to give local authorities the power, following consultation with the police and local community, to introduce local child curfews for unsupervised children under 10 who are out on the streets late at night. The aim of such curfews is two-fold. Not only will they address the need to protect young children from being drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour, but they will protect communities from the misery and distress which can be so often caused by groups of unsupervised children acting in this way.