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Curfew in Bangor

North Wales Police have issued a (probably illegal) “dispersal order” banning unaccompanied teenagers from Bangor in the evenings. They say it is not a blanket ban. The words of the order say it is.

Ellie May O’Hagan opposes it because it makes teenagers feel bad, and because it would have made her feel bad when she was a teenager:

For the 13-year-old me, a curfew would have meant more isolation, more casting adrift, a stronger sense that the town in which I lived didn’t really care about my place in it. I might have felt frustrated that a lack of youth services forced me on to the street, and then that my presence there automatically made me deviant. Then I might have decided not to care about a city that didn’t care about me.

Keith Towler, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales opposes it because it makes people have bad feelings towards teenagers:

“It demonises under 16s, isolates them from their communities, alienates them from police and spreads the misconception all young people are troublemakers.”

There is talk of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission opposing it because it is discrimination. At least they won’t have far to toddle. The EHRC has an office in Bangor.

I am glad all these worthies and unworthies oppose the curfew. It needs opposing. But it saddens me that nobody opposes it on the grounds of how dare they. How dare they stop people who have committed no crime from walking or standing in the public street? In the case of a shopping centre or a nightclub I vehemently support the right of the proprietors to exclude whomsoever they wish. I also support, if more cautiously, the right of small areas to set local rules and covenants as to whether alcohol is permitted, rules about noise and similar constraints. But North Wales Police have exactly as much a right to expel teenagers from a public space as North Wales teenagers have a right to expel the police.

10 comments to Curfew in Bangor

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Teens aren’t adults (supposedly, their brains aren’t quite wired in the adult way) and it’s no wiser to give them their parents’ rights than it would be to give them their parents’ credit cards. It’s sensible to regard them as trouble on the hoof.

  • This came up in my RSS & I thought I had a good issue for my Senate campaign to rail against. Oh well… wrong Bangor.

  • Alisa

    To follow up on PFP’s point, I’d rather it was a blanket ban – i.e., a ban on all minors, not just those from a particular town.

  • JohnB

    It seems to me that a problem has been allowed (dare one even say encouraged?) to develop by taking away the reality of individual freedom and individual responsibility, and then a control agenda introduced in order to “fix” the situation.

    As a fairly recent returnee to the emerald isle I have found myself pondering what is the true cause of loutishness and/or piggish/thuggish behaviour that I witness every day I go out.

    If one refuses to give way to the various prejudi that try and substitute themselves for reality (class, poverty, lack of education, etc) and which can be fairly swiftly despatched, I think it does come down to that lack of freedom and responsibility nexus.

  • JohnB

    prejudi : a meta-context based on and/or created by prejudice. :)

  • Simon Jester

    PFP implicitly supports the curfew, and Alisa wants it extended.

    Arrrggh.

  • Alisa

    Only for minors, Jester, and only at the discretion of local communities (per Natalie’s caveat). At what age one should be considered a minor is a totally separate question (suffice it to say that I consider current legal age and the related general trend preposterous).

  • On the Guardian comment thread linked to above there are many comments from a CiF regular and Bangor resident called “Bangorstu” (my impression of him is that he is a rather traditionalist Tory, not that that is particularly relevant).

    He points out (a) that Bangor is a long, narrow town and the ban extends across the whole width of the central area so that it blocks teenagers travelling across town;

    b) the ban extends into residential areas. In those areas it is literally forbidden for a teenager to walk two streets home from a friend’s house past 9pm. At weekends, as well as weekdays.

    I am all for parental supervision, but to say that for a teenager of 15 or 16 to be out unsupervised at 9pm is “irresponsible” is nuts. This ban is going to catch such depraved pursuits as going to a sports club or scouts or guides meeting that ends at 8.30 and then catching the bus home (Again I am paraphrasing Bangorstu for that example).

    Sure, the cops say that they will “use their discretion”. We have changed the presumption that you may do something by right, unless there is a specific, openly-stated reason why not, to the presumption that you may do it at the pleasure of the authorities, as represented by fallible and sometimes malicious individuals vested with official power.

    Linked to JohnB’s point, for a child to start to travel independently in his or her teenage years is how it should be. No child is likely to develop a sense of responsibility if they have never been out of their parents’ sight until their sixteenth birthday then POW!, it’s off to the swingers’ club.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    PFP implicitly supports the curfew, and Alisa wants it extended.

    Arrrggh.

    Posted by Simon Jester at July 3, 2012 10:37 AM

    Another point to consider: if you insist that everyone be treated equally, everyone will be treated equally badly, not equally well. In a world where some people pose a threat but everyone gets treated the same, the police will act as though every ‘civilian’ is a likely criminal, the TSA will search aged women in wheelchairs, you’ll have to show your papers to enter the Town Hall and so on.

    This isn’t theory, it’s observed fact.

  • Derek Buxton

    PFP,
    Some of the police force do consider us all criminals and do their best to make it so. However, freedom is our birthright and rights are not given, they are ours by right. That is what our Constitution says. I was travelling freely right across the city at 9 yeas of age on my own. Make them responsible by allowing them the responsibility.