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9.01.17

Ministry of Justice report recommends convicted juveniles should be given lifelong anonymity

A Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales carried out by Charlie Taylor on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and published in December 2016 (available here) has made some 36 separate recommendations concentrating on a devolved youth justice system with a greater focus on education and rehabilitation.

One of the recommendations dealing with improving justice for children in Court is the proposal that juveniles convicted of criminal offences whilst under 18 should be granted lifelong anonymity irrespective of the type of offence.  Presently, the anonymity extended to under-18s expires when they reach adulthood.  The Review noted that:-

“Further consideration should be given by the Ministry of Justice to whether the law on youth reporting restrictions should be amended to provide for them to apply automatically in the Crown Court (as they currently do in the Youth Court), to children involved in criminal investigations and for the lifetime of young defendants. The current position seems unsatisfactory as the identity of a child suspect may be reported during a police investigation before criminal court proceedings have even commenced. This can then undermine any youth reporting restriction that later applies in court. Equally, once the child turns 18 years of age their name may once again be reported, which risks undermining their rehabilitation as their identity could be established on the internet even though a conviction may have become spent for criminal records purposes.”

In its detailed response, also published December 2016 (available here) the Government promised to adopt the majority of the main recommendations and, in relation to the proposal of life-long anonymity for convicted juveniles, noted that:-

“We recognise that criminal records in childhood can impact on future life chances. However, there are a number of cases before the courts in relation to disclosure policy as it currently stands. We also look forward to the findings of the current inquiry being carried out by the Justice Select Committee in this area. We intend to work with the Home Office to consider these and the Taylor Review’s recommendations more fully following the Court’s judgment”.

Support has been given for the proposals by Just for Kids Law charity stating “Being named and shamed for what they have done or accused of doing prevents them ever being able to move on”. Opposing views have concentrated on the public interest point and the right of the public to know who has committed serious offences.


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