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

SCYJ is working 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.

Reports

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.

 

,

SCYJ briefing: Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill 2017

Ahead of the Second Reading of Lord Dholakia’s Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill on Friday 8th September, SCYJ has published a briefing supporting the proposals. The Bill would raise the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales to 12 years old. It is currently 10. SCYJ’s briefing sets out the arguments for raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility and is available here.