How Can Curfew on Children Be a UN Problem? CIVIL LIBERTIES CHIEF SAYS CLAMPDOWN IS BREACH OF YOUNGSTERS' RIGHTS

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Byline: STAN ARNAUD

CIVIL rights campaigners have called on the United Nations to investigate the children's curfew imposed by police on three Scottish housing schemes, claiming the youngsters' freedom has been infringed.

Last night, the move by the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties was criticised by supporters of the scheme, including parents on the Lanarkshire estates who say the project is in the best interests of young people and the communities they live in.

One community leader said: 'No one wants to take away any of their rights, the main issue is the safety of the children and I find it hard to understand how anyone can argue with that.' Under the p i l o t project launched by Strathclyde Police following the recommendations of a 'citizens jury' set up by South Lanarkshire Council, children of 15 and under found on the streets after dark are returned to their homes by specially trained officers.

Since it started five weeks ago, 99 children have been taken home by police.

Despite support from many residents and community leaders, civil liberties groups have opposed the scheme from the outset of its introduction in the Fairhill, Hillhouse and Whitehill housing schemes in Hamilton.

Now, following a visit to the UN in Switzerland by Scottish Council for Civil Liberties' director Professor Alan Miller, it could be ruled contrary to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966.

Yesterday, Professor Miller, a leading Glasgow lawyer, said: 'Our view is that it is a possible breach of the rights of children.

Britain is one of the nations which i s signed up to the covenant.' But last night the scheme's supporters hit back, claiming that in the short time it has been operating it has already produced positive results.

South Lanarkshire councillor Joe Lowe, whose Fairhill ward includes one of the schemes in the trial, said: 'The civil liberties people should be sensible here and realise that what is happening is primarily to support and protect children. …