Law that prevents Star from naming thugs

MAGISTRATES deliberated for almost an hour before refusing to allow the young thugs to be named.When they returned their verdict, chairman of the bench Barry Manning said he did not feel it was in the interests of justice to reveal the boys' identities.

MAGISTRATES deliberated for almost an hour before refusing to allow the young thugs to be named.

When they returned their verdict, chairman of the bench Barry Manning said he did not feel it was in the interests of justice to reveal the boys' identities.

But the odds were always stacked against The Evening Star in our application as magistrates' guidelines force them to consider the welfare of the young criminal as the most important factor.

The clinching argument seemed to be further guidelines which revealed the "name and shame" approach to be an inappropriate reason for lifting reporting restrictions.


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Section 49 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 automatically protects the identity of anyone under 18 appearing in a youth court.

An amendment to the Act made in 1997 allows magistrates to lift restrictions when they feel it is in the public interest.

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But, in referring to past landmark cases, the magistrates' clerk warned them added punishment implied by "naming and shaming" would not be a good reason.

Home Office guidance issued in 1998 stressed six major issues to be considered before identities could be revealed:

* Is the nature of the young person's offending persistent or serious, or has it impacted on a number of people or his local community in general?

* Would alerting others to the young person's behaviour help prevent further offending?

* Would naming the young offender reveal the identity of a vulnerable victim and lead to unwelcome publicity?

* Would publicity put the offender or his family at risk of harassment?

* Is the offender particularly young or vulnerable?

* Is the offender contrite and has he shown he is ready to accept responsibility for his actions?

In expressing the magistrates' judgement, Mr Manning said the welfare of the young person was the most important factor.

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