No; in fact, there has been far more reporting of cases involving young defendants in recent years, as the balance has shifted from protecting the rights of the child criminal to ‘naming and shaming’ in order to inform local communities. This shift has been particularly conspicuous in cases of anti-social behaviour.
A court must conduct a sensitive balancing exercise remembering the following principles: ‘In determining whether something is in the public interest, the court must have regard to the open reporting of crime, the open reporting of matters relating to human health or safety and the prevention and exposure of miscarriages of justice as well as to the welfare of the person in relation to whom the restriction would apply and views such a person, or in the case of a person under 16 his parent or other appropriate person, may have expressed’ (Judicial Studies Board guidance).
Children and parents must be aware therefore that serious crimes, or crimes where there is a strong public interest in the offender being identified, will often now be reported in the media, with the appetite for stories increasing with the seriousness of the crime.
Thanks to Andrew Keogh, criminal defence lawyer and editor of CrimeLine for his help with this section and an earlier version which appeared in A Parent’s Guide to the Law by Jon Robins (LawPack , 2009). We’re grateful also to Kim Evans for her help.