The following letter appeared in the Times newspaper on Wednesday 31st October.
Whilst we recognise the harm that anti social behaviour can cause victims, especially vulnerable and elderly people, we have serious concerns about many of the proposed changes within the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, coming before the House of Lords tomorrow.
As a coalition of Catholic Charities, who work to support children and their families, we are extremely concerned that the widening of the definition of anti-social behaviour to encompass behaviour “capable of causing nuisance and annoyance” is too broad and risks unduly criminalising children.
We also have real fears about the plans to extend the use of custodial sentences and family evictions. In the majority of cases, imprisonment of young children would be a wholly inappropriate and counterproductive measure. The reduction in judicial discretion over eviction proceedings also risks putting the wellbeing and welfare of a whole family in jeopardy as a result of the actions of a single child.
Whilst it is important to address the misery caused by anti-social behaviour, we hope that the Government will take steps to ensure that such severe sanctions are only used in the most serious cases, as a last resort.
Rt Rev Bishop Brain, Bishop of Salford
Cathy Corcoran OBE , Director of the Cardinal Hume Centre
Sr Lynda Dearlove MBE, Chief Executive of Women@theWell
Sr Colette Cronin, Congregational Leader of Institute of Our Lady of Mercy
Helen O’Brien, Chief Executive of CSAN
Jim Cullen, Director of Caritas Care
Andy Keen-Downs, Chief Executive of Pact
Dr Rosemary Keenan, Director of Catholic Children’s Society, Westminster
Keith Fernett, Director of Anchor House
John Coleby, Director of Caritas Westminster
Sumerjit Ram, Chief Executive of Faith in Families
Steven Webb, Director of Brentwood Catholic Children’s Society
Kathleen Pitt, Chief Executive of Nugent Care
Tim Bradford, Chief Executive of Father Hudson’s Society
Kate Nightingale, Chief Executive of St Vincent de Paul Society
Eugene Dugan, Director of Irish Chaplaincy in Britain
Mary Kilcoyne, Director of Catholic Children’s Society, Shrewsbury
Austin Donohue, Director of St Cuthbert’s Care