The Crown Prosecution Service has issued new guidance on lifting reporting restrictions in youth cases – including episodes of rioting and public disorder.
The updated guidelines were issued after Home Secretary Theresa May said that under-age rioters should be named and shamed and urged prosecutors to ask judges to overrule the right to anonymity.
Section 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 grants automatic anonymity in the youth court, and section 39 allows similar reporting restrictions to be imposed in magistrates’ court and crown court.
In both cases reporting restrictions can be lifted if there is a strong public interest.
The CPS has issued examples where it would be ‘appropriate for the prosecutor to make representations that there is a strong public interest in favour of lifting restrictions”.
They include ‘significant public disorder’where the public should be ‘satisfied that offenders have been brought to justice and there is a need to deter others”, serious offences that have ‘undermined the public’s confidence in the safety of their communities”, and hate crimes which have a ‘corrosive impact on the confidence of communities”.
The CPS guidance said: ‘In deciding to make an order under section 39, the judge must balance the interests of the public in the full reporting of criminal proceedings with the welfare of the child or young person.
‘The courts have recognised that the weight to be given to the welfare of the child or young person changes where there has been a conviction.
‘Following conviction, particularly in a serious case, there is a legitimate public interest in the public knowing the outcome of proceedings in court and the deterrent effect this will have on others.”
Around one in five of those who have appeared in court are under 18 and at one stage last week as many as half of those who had gone through London courts were juveniles.