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Official report says child criminals should have lifelong anonymity

6th Jan 2017

A review commissioned by the government has recommended that child criminals should be given lifelong anonymity to reduce reoffending rates.

Ministers are considering introducing legislation to indefinitely ban the identification of offenders who commit crimes whilst they are under the age of 18, the Times reported.

Currently, under-18s are automatically granted anonymity when they appear in a youth court and are routinely granted the same if they appear at crown court. However, this anonymity expires when they turn 18 and become adults.

The review of the youth justice system by Charlie Taylor, published this month, said that “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.”

The Just for Kids Law charity welcomed the recommendation, saying that “[child criminals] Being named and shamed for what they have done or accused of doing prevents them ever being able to move on.”

However, Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP for Kettering, argued against this, stating that the public had a right to know who had been convicted of serious offences.

Child suspects are not legally entitled to anonymity, but it is incredibly rare for media outlets to name them. Taylor said this situation could “undermine” a future order banning identification and should also be changed.

The Ministry of Justice said it would “engage with interested parties, including the Home Office, media and youth justice interest groups” on the recommendations, the Times reported.