CLEVELAND Police’s top cop says society needs to be more tolerant of young people and what the older generation often see as anti-social behaviour is “just growing up”.
Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer has called for a full debate on what is and isn’t anti-social behaviour.
She warned that new legislation against yobs could see young people being arrested for childhood behaviour that was tolerated in previous generations.
Ms Cheer made the comments when speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children which is conducting an inquiry into the relationship between children and the police.
She said: “I believe we are becoming quite intolerant of young people in public spaces and I think we are too ready as a society, as the police and particularly with some legislation coming up on the books to label what looks like as growing up to me as anti-social behaviour.
“But what’s anti-social to one person is just what I did and what many young people do. We’ve closed down a lot of places that people are allowed to go to. We’ve fenced off school grounds, I get it, but where do people collect?
“When you’re in a crowd of three or four it can get a bit noisy is that anti-social?
“When you’re walking down a street and might be having a bit of a laugh and joke is that anti-social?
“I do think and I am particularly worried about how some of the stuff coming up might push us further towards that because we’re not sure what anti-social means.”
She stressed police would not tolerate behaviour that is harassing or makes people feel fearful.
Ms Cheer added: “That is our job. We are here to protect everybody. But we need to be careful where the line is.
“I would welcome a more mature debate around what might be anti-social to older people might not be anti-social to younger people and both groups need to come together to make a decision about how we should behave.”
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