Children to lose court anonymity at 18

Children to lose court anonymity at 18

Children could be deterred from giving evidence in court cases and young offenders could have their rehabilitation harmed as a result of a legal ruling that will allow them to be named publicly once they turn 18.

The ruling this week by Lord Justice Leveson in a High Court case means that children previously involved in court proceedings as a defendant, witness or victim will lose their anonymity on their 18th birthday.

The decision has been described as “damaging and concerning” by charity Just for Kids Law and leaves children with less protection than vulnerable adults, who have anonymity for life.

Just for Kids Law director and barrister Shauneen Lambe, said: “The difficulties of encouraging child victims and witnesses to come forward are well recognised, as has been reported by the NSPCC report into the Jimmy Savile scandal. For a child knowing that they could be named in the world’s press once they turn 18, could be a real deterrent to their coming forward.”

She added that the ruling could also harm the rehabilitation of young offenders by allowing the press to publish their identities at a later date.

“The UN Committee of the Rights of the Child states if the defendant was a child when an offence was committed, the traditional objectives of criminal justice give way to rehabilitation and reintegration, rather than retribution. Publishing names of those who were children during court proceedings allows the press to usurp the decision of the criminal courts and impose additional punishments.”

Penelope Gibbs, chair of the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, said: “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 the law needs to be changed to stop this happening.”

In the High Court case, Leveson ruled that the anonymity provided to children under  Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 automatically expires at age 18.

The case involved two former child defendants given community sentences for offences committed when they were 16 and 17. They were challenging an earlier Crown Court ruling that they could be named now they had reached 18 even though they were no longer involved in court proceedings. The BBC and other media groups joined the action arguing in favour of publication.

In his written judgment, Leveson called on parliament to “fashion a solution…as a matter or urgency”.

He said: “It is truly remarkable that parliament was prepared to make provision for lifetime protection available to adult witnesses…but not to extend that protection to those under 18 once they had reached the age of majority.”

Source: CYPNow

Your guide to the Children and Families Act

Your guide to the Children and Families Act

The introduction of the Children and Families Act last month was the culmination of nearly two years of policy development, political wrangling and tireless campaigning.

From the launch of the bill in February 2013, the government was clear that the bulk of the measures would aim to tackle deficiencies in the care and education of some of the most vulnerable groups of children and young people.

Reforms to adoption procedures, special educational needs and the care system underpin many of the provisions.

However, while the scope of the bill remained largely the same over its 13-month passage through the parliamentary process, a number of headline-grabbing initiatives made it into the act that were not originally envisaged. The inclusion of free school meals for all infant-aged pupils was a major policy success for the Liberal Democrats, while the banning of smoking in cars gained cross-party support.

Meanwhile, calls from children’s charities for the bill to provide better support for young carers and to allow fostered children to stay with carers up to the age of 21 were listened to by the government.

Despite these developments, the act still has its critics – some feel its narrow focus represents a missed opportunity; others are worried it places additional unfunded responsibilities on councils.

With guidance still to come on how the act’s provisions will be implemented in practice, CYP Now examines what the act will mean for professionals and services, and assesses what the main unresolved issues are.

Source: CYPNow

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The Department for Education has published statutory guidance for schools and colleges

The Department for Education has published statutory guidance for schools and colleges which sets out what they must do to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18.
Source: Department for Education 03 April 2014
Further information:
Keeping children safe in education (PDF)

Keeping children safe in education (PDF)

Ofsted chief blames early years providers for school readiness failings

Ofsted chief blames early years providers for school readiness failings

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has blamed early years providers for failing to adequately prepare disadvantaged children for school.

Wilshaw believes existing early years provision does not sufficiently meet the needs of disadvantaged children, and that schools are best placed to address this and should be allowed to educate infants from the age of two to narrow the attainment gap.

He said: “Too many of our poorest children are getting an unsure start because the early years system is letting them down.

“What children facing serious disadvantage need is high-quality, early education from the age of two delivered by skilled practitioners, led by a teacher, in a setting that parents can recognise and access.

“These already exist. They are called schools.”

Wilshaw’s remarks follow the publication today of Ofsted’s first early years annual report, which finds that children from poorer backgrounds are being failed by early years provision.

It reveals that less than a third of disadvantaged children reached a good development at the age of five last year.

The report argues that the early years sector is failing to recognise the role that schools can play in delivering high-quality early education.

It also calls for the pupil premium – which from 2015 can be used to support three- and four-year-olds in early years provision – to be extended to two-year-olds at the “earliest opportunity”.

Wilshaw recently wrote to early years inspectors urging them to consider children’s educational development when inspecting a setting.

source: CYPNow