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.