Government to introduce lifelong anonymity for young people involved in court proceedings

Plans to give lifelong anonymity to young people involved in court proceedings are to be introduced by the Government.

The plans mean the media will not be able to identify an offender or witness covered by the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 after they turn 18.

At the moment, youth court restrictions and section 39 orders ‘expire’ on the young person’s 18th birthday.

But the Government wants to provide lifelong anonymity, the same as given to sexual offence victims.

The new restrictions would only apply to identifying young people in connection to the original court proceedings. The media will be able to identify them in other contexts, provided the details don’t give clues to the original court proceedings.

The change may be introduced by an amendment at Report stage of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

Justice Minister Lord Faulks said: "The Government intend to address the lacuna in the current reporting restrictions framework."

He quoted Lord, Lord Ponsonby, the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, who recently remarked: "It is truly remarkable that Parliament was prepared to make provision for lifetime protection available to adult witnesses in appropriate circumstances … but not to extend the protection to those under 18 once they reached the age of majority."

Cleland Thom runs distance learning courses in media law

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