I was youngest person in UK with ASBO aged 10… but I was rewarded with trips to Alton Towers | The Sun
A FORMER tearaway pre-teen who was one of Britain's youngest people slapped with an Asbo says being "rewarded" with trips to Alton Towers only made him worse.
Danny Oakley has turned his life around since being given an anti-social behaviour order when aged just ten, after causing havoc on his West Midlands housing estate.
He and sibling Ricky were dubbed "Asbros" as well as "demons from hell" when running riot across their Park Village estate in Wolverhampton – notching up 40 arrests.
In 2006 they became the youngest to receive ASBOs, which were introduced by Tony Blair's Labour government in 1998 and lasted until being scrapped by David Cameron's coalition administration in 2014.
They were civil rather than criminal orders which could bar anyone over ten from specific behaviour such as vandalism, drunkenness and intimidation – with the risk of being jailed or put under a Parenting Order for any breaches.
The Oakley brothers' mayhem included hurling knives, setting off fires and slashing tyres as well as a spree of burglaries and robberies.
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But Danny, now 29, says too often he felt he was being rewarded rather than punished – only encouraging him to keep on offending.
He told BlackCountryLive: "People ask me what made me change and it wasn't getting arrested or getting ASBOs. When I was a kid I was being rewarded for bad behaviour.
"When I was naughty at school, I was taken to a naughty school where I got to do more trips, more one-to-one and more help. I realised it was better than mainstream school so I decided to be more naughty to stay there.
"When I was with the Youth Offending Team when I was 11 or 12, we had trips to Alton Towers and things like that. My parents could never afford things like that so it was such a treat to go out for the day.
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"People actually try to help you and then once the order is ended all you want to do is get back to that. When I was a kid, I should have been shown what prison was like – that would have helped.
"If I had that, I might have changed. But going on trips and being rewarded for bad behaviour just didn't work."
Speaking to the Sun last month, Danny told of his regrets – but also his frustration about the ASBO approach.
He said: "What did an ASBO get me other than notoriety?
"It’s just a badge of honour and gets you even more into the criminal mindset – thinking, 'I’m the man of the area'.
"But instead, the harsher the punishment, the less likely you'll keep at it.
"I think it was prison instead that learnt me a lesson in life – even if it is a very fine line, as people can become institutionalised.
"I read Keir Starmer saying he’ll be bringing back ASBOs. If you’ve already terrorised 70 of your neighbours, what deterrent is that?
"They’ll just go into the next street. That’s how good areas become bad.
"When I was a kid we did have youth clubs, more policing – but now there’s nothing for people to do. The system is so tightly-squeezed. I can understand why young people turn to crime."
He has spoken openly about how hiding his homosexuality helped turn him towards offending – but hopes he has since become a source of hope online for LGBT+ youngsters from similar council estate backgrounds.
Danny, who still lives in Wolverhampton, admitted to BlackCountryLive he was a "troubled kid" but added: "Being a gay lad, I didn't really know anyone else who was gay and I struggled with that.
"I didn't feel like I was 'normal' or 'right' compared to everyone else. I didn't know which way to turn and felt like I had no support.
"Mental health wasn't really spoken about then and the only way I could feel normal was to escape reality, so you get involved with drink and drugs at a young age.
"You get sold a dream by gangs who say they'll be there for you forever but you soon realise it is not worth it."
He highlighted as a turning-point a 28-day stint in prison in 2014, adding: "I was locked away and isolated.
"I felt suicidal and had no purpose in life and it showed me that I needed to change because if I didn't, I'd be right back there – it was a taste of what's to come for you if you carry on with bad behaviour."
But before that he and other youngsters felt validated not only by misbehaving but also gaining a "bad boy" reputation, Danny says.
He recalled: "The judge gave special permission to make an example of me and my brother – but when kids saw that, they could see how you could get 'famous' by being naughty.
"Kids were looking up to me for being a little s*** whereas I'm ashamed.
"Old people would cross the road when they saw me and put their phones in their bag.
"I'd never rob an old person in my life and would go out my way to help them, but because of this on the front page of newspapers it had a huge impact on my life.
"I couldn't go to mainstream school because people wanted to fight me and saw me as a celebrity.
"We were called all sorts like 'demon children from hell' – in today's standards that would have been seen as child abuse.
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"Your life is defined for you. You get called these things and you start to believe them and act up to it."
But Danny says he would now like to give talks to students, urging them to shun a life of crime – and insisted: "I don't want people to think I'm proud of my past because I'm not."
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