Clause 109

Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:30 pm on 27 November 2007.

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Individual support orders

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I rise to draw attention to the reservations expressed by the Standing Committee for Youth Justice about the clause. It is concerned that individual support orders have not proved a great success. The clause would allow ISOs to be made more than once, not only simultaneously with an ASBO, and to be attached to  ASBOs that are obtained on conviction or in the county court, whereas at present they are available only in civil proceedings in the magistrates courts.

The committee says that only a limited number of ISOs have been used and suggests that the low take-up rate reflects a lack of knowledge about ISOs among sentencers and youth offending team duty officers. It also suggests that, in cases when a young person had contact with the youth offending team through an existing court order, there was a general assumption that an ISO was unnecessary because it would add nothing to services that were already in place.

The committee put it to me that the Government’s proposals might increase the number of ISOs to an extent, but that they would not deal either of those issues and would reinforce the current perception that support for vulnerable young people subject to ISOs should be provided through the youth justice system, and youth offending teams in particular. It argues that it is a matter for other support services and that the requirements within ISOs could make matters worse—not better—because there could be breach proceedings if the requirements of the ISO were not carried out by the young person. The committee believes that the support services should be available, irrespective of the behaviour of the young person, as a necessary part of rehabilitation. I welcome any comments that the Minister might have about my remarks.

Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Crime Reduction)

In some respects, I agree with the hon. Gentleman. He is right to say that individual support orders are not used to the extent that we would hope. Part of the intention behind the clause is to increase the number of ISOs that are issued. There is a lack of knowledge. That is a fair point. It is something that we have addressed through the Home Office, but it will now also be dealt with through other Departments, including the Ministry of Justice. The whole point of individual support orders is to deal with some of the criticisms that have been made and ensure that young people subject to antisocial behaviour orders are given the support that they need to help them address their antisocial behaviour. The individual support orders try to achieve some of the things that he and other members of the Committee have argued, throughout today, are necessary if we are to divert young people away from antisocial behaviour and criminal activity. The clause extends the use of individual support orders and makes them available for antisocial behaviour orders, on conviction.

The argument for individual support orders is one of resources and of agencies working together, but we need to ensure that more of them are used, because they are often very successful and it is a source of regret that they are not used in more cases.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 109 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses110and 111 ordered to stand part of the Bill.