Government proposals which would allow Bradford council to impose curfews on the under tens have been criticised by a leading Keighley community official.

Racial Equality Officer Zafar Ali says curfews could create more problems than they solve.

His comments follow a debate on the Crime and Disor-der Bill by Bradford council's community safety sub-committee. The Bill aims to reduce youth crime.

Councillors heard that once the bill becomes law they will have the power to introduce temporary curfews in specified areas. The local community would have to be consulted and Home Secretary Jack Straw would have to approve.

Unaccompanied children found in curfew areas at night would be taken home by police. Officers would also have the power to take the children to a safe place if a responsible adult is not around.

Mr Ali, who is a magistrate, says everyone is concerned about crime but curfews are difficult issues. He is in favour of making parents more res-ponsible for their children but sees curfews as interfering with domestic life and causing family conflict. "They could be counterproductive," he says. "What if a mother is at work, the father is ill and a child is needed to go to a shop?"

An electronic 'tagging' curfew system is already available to the courts for people over 16 and is being piloted for ten-15-year-olds in several parts of the country. Also introduced would be a requirement for councils, police, probation and health services and voluntary groups to work together on youth crime prevention.

Youth view, page 8

Studies show that most young criminals are boys whose families and friends are involved in crime. Contributory factors include poor parenting, lack of supervision and discipline and playing truant or being excluded from school.

The government sees encouraging young people to make a more positive contribution to society as a way of reducing crime and the fear of it.

Aim of the new law is to confront young offenders and their parents with the consequences of their action and help them take responsibility for it.

The courts, who will be required to speed up the youth justice system, will have the power to order young criminals to make amends by working for their victims.

Magistrates will also be able to order parents to attend counselling courses.

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