“Children in trouble with the law should never be named and shamed” – SCYJ publishes new report

SCYJ has published a new report on the naming and shaming of children involved in the justice system. It is available to download here.

We find that the law on naming and shaming is not fit for purpose and should be reformed; it is inconsistent, jeopardises children’s rehabilitation and life chances, and unfairly penalises the siblings of children who offend.

The coverage of the recent tragic murder of schoolteacher Ann Maguire highlighted the ridiculous inconsistencies in the law. A national newspaper named the boy accused of her murder before he was charged. Now it would be illegal to do so.

When children are identified by the media, the details of their often troubled backgrounds are publicised, as are details of their sisters and brothers lives. It can also prevent children moving on from their past – their offending history will be on the internet in perpetuity.

SCYJ believes that the law and its practice need to be changed.  In this new report by Dr Di Hart, “What’s in a name? The identification of children in trouble with the law”, we call for a ban on identification of children in trouble with the law for criminal or anti-social behaviour, at any stage in the case, including before charge.

Penelope Gibbs, Chair of SCYJ, says:

It is not in the public interest for children to be named and shamed by the media, and have their crimes and misdemeanours in social media for ever.  These children have done wrong, but they need to rebuild their lives and naming and shaming them makes it harder for them to turn their back on crime.

If we want safer communities and fewer victims, we need to do everything possible to rehabilitate children who commit crime.  Exposing them and their family to public vilification will make it more, not less, likely that they will go on to commit more crimes.”


SCYJ comment on “naming and shaming” court ruling

Commenting on today’s ruling by Lord Justice Leveson that children previously involved in court proceedings can be named in the media after they turn 18, Penelope Gibbs, Chair of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) said:

“We are very disappointed by the judgement this morning that children who had been given anonymity in the courts, can be named when they hit their 18th birthday.  This clarification of the law means that vulnerable witnesses and children who offend may face the harmful glare of publicity just as they are trying to put the past behind them, and turn their lives around.  There is no public interest in identifying child victims, witnesses and offenders who were previously anonymous. We believe that the law needs to be changed to stop this happening.”

For more information on the case see the Just For Kids Law press release here. Just for Kids Law is a member of SCYJ and intervened in the case.