Sign up to receive regular updates about children’s play and playwork

Communication Preferences

Please state how you would prefer to be contacted.
To view our privacy policy, click here.

Back to News

New Anti-Social Behaviour Bill to criminalise children playing outdoors


In our letter published in the Times (16 July 2013), Play England and Play Wales voice concerns that proposals to alter the definition of anti-social behaviour poses a real threat to the quality of life for children across England and Wales.

A letter to the Times published on 16 July 2013.


New Anti- Social Behaviour Bill to criminalise children playing outdoors

We are deeply concerned by the proposed changes to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill which aim to radically alter the definition of anti-social behaviour to 'conduct capable of causing nuisance and annoyance', posing a real threat to the quality of life for children across England and Wales.

The new injunction will be enforceable from age 10 upwards and will require significantly less proof to enforce than with the previous 'ASBOs', yet can be punishable with imprisonment if broken. The Association of Police Officers, who have suggested that the new threshold is too subjective and could unnecessarily criminalise children for simply being children, share this concern.

Not only does this legislation directly contradict the United Nations call to support children's right to play, but rather than tackling the root issue of anti-social behaviour, this will merely serve as another barrier stopping children from playing outdoors with their friends in the street, the park or other public spaces, further jeopardising the physical and mental health of children.

We urge government to rethink their proposals. Efforts to genuinely tackle anti-social behaviour must be reasonable, proportionate and effective. These are not.

Signed by

Cath Prisk, Director, Play England
Mike Greenaway, Director, Play Wales
Dr Hilary Emery,Chief Executive,National Children's Bureau
Puja Darbari, UK Director of Strategy, Barnardos
Sue Armstrong-Brown, Head of Policy, RSPB
Sir Tim Smit, Chief Executive & co-founder of the Eden Project
Wendy Ellyatt, Founding Director and CEO, Save Childhood Movement
Lesli Godfrey, UK Strategic Lead for Playwork and the Children's Workforce, SkillsActive
Julie Hathaway, National Director, KIDS
Wendy Russell, Snr Lecturer in Play and Playwork, University of Gloucestershire
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive, Living Streets
Jason Torrance, Policy Director, Sustrans
Michael Hoenigmann, Chairman, Association of Play Industries
Professor Perry Else, Sheffield Hallam University | Faculty of Development and Society
Graham Duxbury, Development Director, Groundwork
Mary Crowley, President, International Federation for Parenting Education
Fiona Phur, Voluntary Youth Development Worker, The Regional Youth Work Unit
Alice Ferguson, Director, Playing Out
Eugene Minogue, Chief Executive, Parkour UK
Christine Andrews, Hon Sec, RePlay (SE Play Association)
Mark Gladwin, Chair of Trustees, Activ8 Learning
Susan Moores, Chair, Plymouth Play Association
Richard Mckie, CEO, Cornwall Youth Work Partnership
Anita Grant, Chief Executive, Islington Play Association
Sarah Grand, Director, Lambeth Play Association
Sue Waite, Research fellow, Plymouth University
Ben Ward, Director, World Jungle
Martin Gillett, Manager, Oxfordshire Play Association
Jane Acton, CEO Nature Workshops
Jeffrey Hill, C.E.O. Children's Scrapstore Bristol
Pip Levett, Director, Play Gloucestershire
Tanny Stobart, Chair, Play Torbay
Nicola Butler, Director, Hackney Play Association
Toby Blume, Design Council built environment expert, #freeschool founder
Simon Bazley, Executive Officer, NEW Play
Grant Lambie, Director, Free Play
Deborah Cowley, Director, Action for Prisoners' Families.
Arthur Battram, Director, Plexity
Neil Coleman, independent play consultant
Katie Hanchard-Goodwin, Inclusive Play Lead, Bristol Playbus
Simon Rix, Senior Playworker, Meriden Adventure Playground.
Beckey Colley, Projects and Fundraising Manager, Birmingham PlayCare Network (BPCN)
Chris McIver, Head of Service - Youth/Sport/Play & Targeted Youth Support Services, Bolton Council - Department of Children's & Adult Services,
Leo Murray, Director, Monkey-Do CIC
Karen Limbrick, Principal, Ground Designs
Dr Ute Navidi, International Play Association Regional Vice President (Europe)
Leigh-Anne Stradeski, Chief Executive, Eureka! The National Children's Museum
Bernard Spiegal, Director, PLAYLINK
David Bond, Director, Green Lions
Andy Grout, CEO, Milton Keynes Play Association
Paul Glaze, Chief Executive, Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services
Dr Gareth Stratton,Professor of Paediatric Exercise Sciences, Director of Applied Sports Technology Exercise and Medicine Research Centre (A-STEM), Swansea University
Dr Ute Navidi, Consultant Director, Hillingdon Play Association
Meynell Walter, Director, Meynell Games Group
Clare Quarrell, Trustee, Childlife