Growing Up, Moving On: Our campaign to reform the law on childhood criminal records

SCYJ is campaigning to reform the childhood criminal records system in England and Wales, to allow children who have been in trouble with the law to grow up, and move on with their lives. We’ve published two reports on our campaign, which are available below.

The childhood criminal records system in England and Wales anchors children to their past and prevents them moving on from their mistakes. There’s evidence to show that the system acts as a barrier to employment, education and housing. These are important factors in preventing reoffending, so by blocking access to them, the criminal records system works against rehabilitation and thus the aims of the youth justice system. Worryingly, the system also perpetuates inequalities in the justice system, for instance among children in care and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children.

Research by SCYJ (see below) shows that the system in England and Wales is far more punitive than those in comparable jurisdictions; children in England and Wales are more likely to receive a criminal record, and the effect of that record is more profound and lasts longer than in other jurisdictions.

SCYJ wants to see the system reformed so that the impact of childhood criminal records is much reduced, but the public remain protected. The details of our recommendations for reform are set out in our campaign report, Growing Up, Moving On (see below), but in short we want to see:

  • Rehabilitation periods significantly reduced;
  • A presumption against disclosing police intelligence on children;
  • The filtering system expanded (including getting rid of the “two offences rule” and the list of “exempt offences”) and the time frames applied reduced;
  • Provision for wiping (or deleting) childhood offences from police computers if conditions are met, introduced in the future.


Growing Up, Moving On: A report on the childhood criminal records system in England and Wales

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The International Treatment of Childhood Criminal Records – a comparison of 16 jurisdictions 

FULL REPORT: The International Treatment of Childhood Criminal Records – a comparison of 16 jurisdictions. 

SCYJ submission to Bar Standards Board consultation: New Information and Registration Requirements for the Bar

SCYJ has made a submission to the Bar Standards Board’s New Information and Registration Requirements for the Bar – Consultation on Rule Change.

We support the BSB proposal to require barristers undertaking work in proceedings involving children to register. However, registration alone will do nothing to improve standards of advocacy in youth justice. To improve standards of advocacy, we strongly believe that the BSB should introduce the mandatory training recommended by various high-profile reviews alongside registration, and include modules on youth justice, vulnerability and communication in standard academic training prior to practice.

You can read our submission here.


‘Child Friendly Youth Justice?’ Conference – Monday 25th September

Join us on Monday 25th September for a one-day youth justice conference bringing together academics, practitioners and policy makers to discuss the latest research, practice and policy thinking concerning child friendly youth justice.

Click here to view our full agenda, and click here to read the session abstracts from our expert presenters.

The conference is presented by youth justice experts the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ), the National Association for Youth Justice (NAYJ), and the Centre for Community Gender and Social Justice at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge.

We have unmissable keynote speakers lined up, including Charlie Taylor, Chair of the Youth Justice Board and author of the government-commissioned Taylor Review of the youth justice system; and academics specialising in youth justice including Professor Lesley McAra, Co-Director of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, and Professor Jo Pheonix, Chair in Criminology at the Open University.

To book your ticket go to