of first time offenders, home office minister Hilary Benn said today.
Speaking at a seminar in London, Mr Benn said the Orders, currently
first court appearance and are given a Referral Order, should be
extended in order to tackle juvenile offending as early as possible.
Proposals to increase the use of Parenting Orders are part of a
series of measures included in the Criminal Justice White Paper
'Justice For All' and are designed to steer potential young offenders
away from a life of crime.
Hilary Benn said:
'We propose to give the courts the power to make a Parenting Order
when a young offender pleads guilty to a first time offence and is
referred to a Youth Offending Panel by way of a Referral Order.
Similarly, we want more Parenting Orders to be issued with ASBOs, to
ensure parents of children engaging in anti-social behaviour get the
support they need to address the problem.
'Being a parent does bring with it responsibilities for all of us.
There are a small number of parents who seem unwilling or unable to
take personal responsibility for what their children are getting up
to. It isn't good enough just to let this happen and that is why and
where a Parenting Order should be issued.
'The Parenting Order is designed to offer support to parents whose
children have been involved in offending, anti-social behaviour or
truancy. It is not a punishment but a positive development for the
concept of parental responsibility, allowing parents to build their
skills so they can respond more effectively to challenging adolescent
'The Orders are still in their infancy, but early findings are
particularly promising. Parents are finding the programmes beneficial
regardless of some initial reluctance to attend them because of
compulsion. It is very positive that participants feel the programmes
have helped the relationship with their child, and I hear some
parents go on to establish their own parenting support groups as a
result of attending the courses.'
Welcoming the results of an evaluation of Parenting Orders, published
today, Mr Benn said:
'Early signs suggest the Order may also have an impact on
re-offending and that in the short term there is a reduction of
reconviction rates by the children of parents on the Order. It will
be interesting to see if this initial finding is confirmed by
'However, the evaluation has highlighted a number of issues that we
need to address, including ensuring that more parents whose children
are becoming involved in offending feel the benefit of the scheme.
Mr Benn also encouraged the greater involvement of fathers in the
Parenting Order scheme:
'It is important that both parents work to help their children change
their offending behaviour, but research shows that 81% of those
attending parenting classes on Parenting Orders were female. We want
fathers to take more responsibility for their children's care and
are looking at ways in which more fathers can be made subject to
Parenting Orders where needed.'
Concluding his speech, Mr Benn said:
'There have been many positive developments for parenting this year,
with the extended use of parenting orders and the chancellor
announcing£25m for parenting support in the Spending Review. Early
intervention and the support of parents are crucial to ensure
healthy families and strong communities.
1. A Parenting Order includes attendance at practical guidance
sessions to help parents cope with a child's behaviour. These
sessions do not punish parents but give them practicial advice on
changing behaviour while supporting the parent.
2. Parenting Orders can be issued by the courts where;
- a child or young person has been convicted of an offence;
- where a child safety order, an anti-social behaviour order or sex
offender order has been made against the child;
- or where a person is convicted under section 443 or 444 of the
Education Act 1996 for failing to comply with a school attendance
order or secure the regular attendance at school of a registered
3. 2194 Parenting Orders have been imposed between April
2000-December 2001. The vast majority, 1,536, were crime related.
4. Anti-social behaviour orders or ASBOs are civil orders, which
protect the community from behaviour that causes harassment, alarm or
distress. Breach of an ASBO is a criminal offence. ASBOs were
introduced in England and Wales by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998
and have been available since April 1999.
5. The orders protect the community by prohibiting offenders from
certain anti-social acts or entering a specified area.
6. 583 ASBOs were granted between April 1999 and March 2002 (the
latest date for which figures are available). In the same period 19
7. The home office review of ASBOs found that, overall, police and
local authorities using ASBOs find them cost effective. The cost of
not taking action against persistent anti-social behaviour is much
8. The chancellor announced the Parenting Fund in the Spending Review
White Paper in July. The voluntary and community sector is working
with the government in the detailed design of the£25m fund, which
will provide a robust network of parenting support to help families
before they reach crisis point.
9. From 2 April 2002, the youth court have referred all young
offenders, (aged 10-17) pleading guilty and convicted for the first
time, to youth offender panels; unless the offending is so serious
that it warrants custody or the court orders an absolute discharge or
makes a hospital order.
10. The panels meet with the young person, his or her family and
wherever possible the victim of the crime to draw up a contract with
the offender. The contract includes a range of activities and
restrictions designed to deal with offenders, prevent re-offending
and repair the harm done to the victim and the wider community.
11. The Criminal Justice White Paper 'Justice For All' was published
on 17 July 2002. Copies are available at www.homeoffice.gov.uk
12. Hilary Benn was speaking at the Youth Justice Board and National
Family and Parenting Institute Seminar.