After the police force issued a ban on people under the age of 16 entering the town center of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, between the hours of 9pm and 6am in an effort to stop bad behavior, civil rights campaigners are calling the curfew unlawful.
The law, which went into effect on Friday and will extend for six months, calls for anyone who is under 16 and not with an adult to be removed from the town center by police regardless of whether the minor has done anything wrong.
The campaign group Liberty has asked families who want to legally challenge the ruling because it violates their civil rights to contact them. Emma Norton, a lawyer at Liberty, said: "A blanket ban on 15-year-olds walking around on summer nights is discriminatory, counterproductive and just plain wrong. The police should target offenders of whatever age, not show disrespect and distrust of a whole generation.”
In a statement on its website, the police force said: "It will give police the discretionary power to take home young people under 16 who involved in antisocial behavior and out on the streets in a dispersal zone between 9pm and 6am, and are not accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.”
"Many interventions have been put in place by the police and partners and, although some measures have had some success, nuisance behavior still persists on an almost daily basis,” said Inspector Julie Mitchell of the South Yorkshire police, according to The Guardian.
"The common theme that appears to cause the most concern is rowdy, inconsiderate and abusive behavior. This behavior is often from people in large groups and has led to members of the public and business community reporting the feeling of being harassed and intimidated,” she added.
Like his colleagues at Liberty, Nick Pickles, the director of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, opposes the ban. "Dispersal orders are a blunt, crude tool that at best moves the problem to somewhere nearby,” he said. "It is a sign that the police have lost control of the streets and yet does nothing to restore either the community spirit or respect for the law that has been lost.”