CHILDREN in Swindon should not be given ASBOs unless there is no other alternative, according to the town’s head of Youth Offending Team (YOT).

Kevin Leaning, head of service for the team, said only three young people currently have ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders).

Speaking at an Old Town Rotary Club breakfast meeting, Mr Leaning said many young people’s misbehaviour stems from major problems.

Mr Leaning said: “If you can’t work out solutions about why a child is behaving in a certain way and we just stick a punishment on them – we are admitting we have failed. We have to come together and work out a solution – we want to give them the chance to stop the behaviour and change to more positive behaviour.

“But if the child doesn’t change an ASBO might be what is needed so they can wake up to how their behaviour is upsetting the community around them.”

Magistrate Dick Mattick also agreed with issuing ASBOs with caution at the meeting. He said: “We need to be selective with ASBOs – they should not be there to punish childish behaviour.

“ASBOs can land children in custody if they are breached, even if it was given for a minor incident originally. The youth offending team does a lot of good work with young people who might be offenders but are also victims.

“It is easy for us with our structured lives to think: why do young people they do it? But if you were in their situation, you might think differently.”

The Swindon YOT is currently working with about 150 eight to 18-year-olds to stop them committing crime or reoffending. Mr Leaning said the service is one of the most successful multi-agency teams in England and Wales thanks to partnership working.

He said: “If there is a kid with a mental health nurse, I can simply walk down the corridor and speak to the nurse.”

“We are doing well in reducing first time entrants into the justice system. We are also doing well in reducing reoffending and frequency of reoffending.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with the organisation is invited to get in touch. Fifty volunteers perform roles, including going to the police station to act as an appropriate adult if a young person is arrested.

Swindon YOT holds sessions about its work at The Limes, Green Road, Stratton. Sessions, from 2pm to 3.30pm, are taking place on January 8, February 12, March 12, April 9 and May 7.

To pre-book, call 01793 823153 or email