Curfews are spreading. Do they work? And what about human rights?

Start’ em young sounds fine in theory, but the idea of curfews for the under 10s seems a bit grim. Nevertheless, a new trial for a voluntary curfew in Redruth, Cornwall is being hailed as a success by some locals, and Conservatives searching for a Big Idea. Under 10s home by 8pm… OK… but under 16s tucked up by 9? Seems a tall order. And what’s the sanction if junior tells you to sod off? The days of a friendly cuff round the ear from PC Plod or even Dad are long gone. And note the human rights objections.

Yet here’s a record of an apparently successful curfew for under 16s in Tyne and Wear four years ago, but not renewed. I wonder what has happened since? Any Geordies out there who might know?

In NI, a compulsory curfew for youths is part of both the asbo culture ( tightened up by a new Order) and voluntary, as part of restorative justice. I haven’t been able to find a good account of either the thinking or practice of curfews. The new Order ( see 7.24) on curfew and electronic tagging has widened their use for people on bail and certain types of offender and some non-custodial sentences.

Aside from curfews imposed for offences after the event, the Assembly debated recommending curfews for learner drivers. in a bid to reduce the carnage on the roads. MLAs of course have no power to make justice and policing rules( ! ) But they can make recommendations.

Clearly curfews are a coming thing. Are restrictions on movements from ages below 10 to learner drivers effective for cutting down on yobbery, road accidents etc?

Has anyone got knowledge or direct experience?

  • Donnacha

    A few years back in a country town near where I lived here in NZ, the local Senior Sergeant declared a curfew for unaccompanied kids aged 14 and under from the hours of 9pm to 7am.
    And it worked. Figures fell for crimes such as vandalism, tagging, criminal damage, breaking and entering, theft ex cars, disorder and assault. Schools backed it, the public backed it, churches backed and retailers loved it. But then the local paper did a story about it and police HQ got a few phone calls from the civil liberties mobs and the scheme died a death. It was revived eventually after concerns were raised at council level, but it was not as well enforced (the Senior had moved on) and became more honoured in the breach than the observance. A shame, because the figures during the curfew showed a clear and dramatic drop in crime and also a pity it could not have been extended to some of the more enthusiastic adult drinkers in the town. Still, for a while, bliss reigned.

  • The Raven

    All nuances of the issue at hand, (HR rights, Assembly abilities to implement, etc) put to one side – is this really where we’ve ended up? Curfews for the under-10s? Bedtimes for 16 year-olds?

    I note from the BBC piece:

    “Julia Goldsworthy, MP for Falmouth and Camborne, said it should be rolled out in other problem areas if it proved successful.”


    “While we must not demonise all young people, we have to acknowledge that youngsters don’t have to commit crime or anti-social behaviour to be intimidating to residents. Simply hanging around on street corners can be enough of a threat.”

    What?? And of course, this “big idea” gives no consideration to bigger themes, like play and recreation for under 18’s, and the problem of latch-key kids (which some teachers are reporting is happening as low as the age of 11).

    We ARE demonising all young people. We patronise them with Youth Councils and “meet the councillor” events on one hand, and then tell them that they can’t play on a local green area because the noise bothers some mouldy middle-aged oul fart.

    We dream up school awards like “cooperation in the classroom” and then don’t provide proper youth facilities for when they are out of school.

    We create extended schools schemes, and forget that post-3:00pm, the last place a 14 year old wants to be is in a school.

    What is a “problem area”? And when does it move from being curfews (voluntary or otherwise, please folks, I haven’t missed that point) for under-10s to under-18s…or from 8pm to 6pm…and then to wider curfew powers? And after curfew powers, where does it move on to?

    “V for Vendetta”, anyone?

    I am not doubting the need – I am just wondering where that amorphous diaspora known as “society” has all gone so very badly wrong…

    And more importantly, where is the vision of the eejits we elect year upon year to actually do something about it? It simply isn’t there.

  • Curfews…? yikes you people have curfews.The whole idea of the state telling people when they can come out of their homes is just to paternalistic/authoritarian,again yikes.
    All though even here in Canada. There are those that feel passing more and more law,whether to regulate people’s personal habits,child rearing habits etc etc,is somehow the answer to everything.
    God save us from the do-gooders and their spawn the nanny state.

  • Cahal

    Chicago has a great curfew. Under 16s off the street by 10pm, 11pm on Fri and Sat night. It’s great – no gangs of pubescent scum bags looking for trouble, a la Belfast and Derry.

  • Cahal

    Actually under 17 year olds….

  • a draconian measure. an attempt to find an external solution to an internal problem.

    Kids need to be taught from an early age about the workings of the mind an how to let go of negative emotion when it comes up in the mind. Today the youngsters are bombarded with targeted advertising, sucking them into a pool of suffocating consummerism from a young age. we need to re think this cultural shift towards greed and individualism and focus more on empathy and mindfullness.

    Time to look east for an example.


  • Rory

    Wonderful clip of David Icke’s press conference, Pikey. And so enlightening…I learnt, for example, that apparently “two and two is four, not five”. Why a man of such towering intellectual rigour is not already Leader of the World remains a mystery to me. Perhaps he will shortly reveal the answer.

  • Joe

    From Pikey’s link above –

    what is David Icke doing standing against him you may ask?

    Is this not the man who has spent 25 years of his life campaigning against centralised global fascism?

    No, it isn’t. It’s a man who cheerfully sucks up to, and has a history of providing financial and moral support for, Nazis and their sympathisers. When David Irving was suing Deborah Moggach and Penguin for quite accurately describing him as a holocaust denier, Icke was not only very vocal in his support for Irving, but set up pages on his website full of puff for Irving’s books, with links to Amazon. He’s also a big fan of Ernest Zundel. Icke’s a pig-ignorant antisemite dressing his Nazi shite up in rainbows and fairies so he can sell it to hippy fuckwits.

  • Joe

    Deborah Lipstadt, obviously…

  • Greenflag

    ‘Time to look east for an example. ‘

    My dad would have concurred . He was always an admirer of the Isle of Man – particularly it’s method of dealing with vandals , hooligans etc . It was called the cat o nine tails . They never came back for a second dose he said . No graffitti , no vandalised public property such as phone boxes , bus shelters etc etc .

    I understand all the ‘pychological ‘ reasons for not implementing corporal punishment on the very young but with society now ‘dragging’ up millions of children of single parent families we have to expect that there will be millions of ‘disturbed’ teenagers in the future. And before someone jumps down my throat I’m aware that not all hooligans come from such backgrounds but there is a very strong correlation between single parent families and poverty and an even stronger correlation between poverty and criminal activity in all societies .

    Curfew would be unfair to the majority of well behaved kids but the threat of the cat o nine tails could work for the not so well behaved . Sometimes a kick in the arse is the best tool for transferring basic social ethics from the seat of the pants of a young hooligan to the frontal cortex (brain – judgement zone ) of said hooligan 🙂

    The penalty for violent attacks on the defenseless aged and young should include ‘corporal’ punishment as well as prison sentences . It’s probably a better deal longer term for the ‘younger ‘ hooligans as sending them to prison /reformatory usually means they’ll emerge with ‘better’ criminal qualifications 🙁

    Justice not only needs to be done but must be seen to be done .

    BTW the ‘Ickey’ idiot is standing for election against David Davis in a by election in the UK today. He’ll get the usual desultory vote of course not that he’ll take this message to heart as in any way indicative that the vast majority of people are out of step with his ‘message’ .

  • joeCanuck

    Curfew would be unfair to the majority of well behaved kids

    Exactly. Collective punishment of those who cannot fight back. Curfews should certainly be used, but only on those proven to have been a public nuisance after dark. This could be after a brief appearance before a J.P.

  • Damian O’Loan


    “Curfews should certainly be used, but only on those proven to have been a public nuisance after dark”

    That is already provided for under the ASBO Order. This measure would, therefore, serve only to incriminate those children/juveniles who do not fall into the absurdly wide scope of that Order.

    That is why it is a breach of human rights – because it is deliberately targetting the innocent. There would also be a strong case for the right to object for the same reason, as it is unnecessary government interference.

    I also feel that the generation gap which results in adults feeling intimidated by the harmless teenagers and children could be tackled by Council-organised events for them to meet and vent, as the beginning of a process of mutual understanding. Less expensive, more effective, but less likely to criminalise – what do you think the aim of this policy is?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I liked Icke better when he was going on about the shapeshifting lizards taking over the world.

    I really hate it when we are in the context of a debate like this, and some high and mighty individual comes along to lecture us about human rights and victimizing the yoof. The truth is, like everything to do with law and order, that there has to be a tradeoff. This is a subject upon which I get very authoritarian, and so does anyone who has, like me, had to deal directly with the consequences of anti-social behaviour. I’m strongly in favour of implementing a curfew and I’m absolutely convinced it would lead to a drop in low-level crime and correspondingly make our neighbourhoods safer to live in. The small kids around here run around the area smashing stuff, damaging cars, writing on walls (sometimes with spray paint) and making life hell for the workers in the local neighbourhood shop. They hang around in gangs and threaten and intimidate the elderly. They light fires, and burn out bins.

    The current response of the police to anti-social behaviour is for them to back off. If I call them, I have to tell them not to call at the house in case they are spotted speaking to me and I therefore get victimized. I’ve been told that I must not take photographs of anyone under 16 engaging in anti-social behaviour or vandalism, and it’s better if I ignore it rather than respond to it as it will only make it worse. The police response to us is, look, we can’t do anything about this, therefore you must organize your life in such a way that you do not provoke them. I went up to the Newtownabbey DPP a couple of years ago, and an officer there told me that he had problems with anti-social behaviour. He couldn’t approach them himself because he didn’t want them knowing that he was in the filth. His solution was quite simple – move out of the house. This was a police officer. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

    The solution here must be carrot and stick, not just carrot, and not just stick. We do need to reach out to young people and ensure they have the right recreational facilities. But the message needs to be loud and clear, hanging around the place and causing problems will not be tolerated.

    Decent parents who are doing their job properly don’t let their under 16s out after 8/9pm. So I’m not at all broken up about whose rights might be getting violated, and I completely reject the idea that innocent kids are going to be victimized. The politician who brings in curfews and stiff police action against offenders will win votes and support right across Northern Ireland.

  • joeCanuck

    I have no experience of the type of behaviour you have described, Comrade. I live in a small town (8,000) and we just haven’t yet experienced that. Hope we never do.
    When I was young we had a parental curfew until we were 16. Even then, while we still lived at home we had to say where we were going and what we were intending to do when we went out.

  • Rory

    I blame the widespread introduction of central heating myself. There just aren’t enough chimnies to send the little buggers up these days.

  • Comrade Stalin


    I know that you do follow the news here, so you may have seen what has been going on in Limavady. It’s a small town, only a bit bigger than yours, and there has been something like 90 arson events there in the past 12 months. I’d be reasonably sure we’re not talking about grown adults here.

    Everyone here will have got a copy of the Chief Constable’s report through the door recently. There are about 30,000 incidents of criminal damage in NI each year, and the clearup rate is 9%. You’ll find this number will drop by half if you implement and enforce a curfew.

    Yup, my parents had me in the house by 8pm when I was under 16. I see kids between 12 and 14 running about here after 11pm. Their parents do not care.

  • joeCanuck


    You have my sympathies indeed. As far as I know, the number of arson incidents we had last year was zero.
    We just have an occasional incidence of that and it’s nearly always on Halloween.

  • Limavady

    Comrade Stalin

    Just for comparison purposes, the number of arsons which are caused by those they believe responsible was nearer 70 (still outrageous) and Limavady has a population of around 16,000.

    Actually, the hallions responsible for most of Limavady’s problems are believed to be in the 19-25 age range.

    There was a public meeting a few months ago in Limavady about the whole thing. Of course there were the usual “angry villagers” scenes, all racing towards the police with, figuratively speaking, flaming torches. But the bottom line was – and this is where the community hit a brick wall – until the same local community TELL the police who they know was doing it, then the cops’ hands were tied.

    I think the issue may now dying down since a few arrests last week, but by no means is Limavady a poster town for a curfew campaign. Legally speaking, those believed responsible ARE adults.

  • The Raven