Youth justice review recommends reformed criminal records system for children

“A reformed criminal records system for children”

That’s the recommendation of Charlie Taylor, whose review into youth justice was published today.

In a wide-ranging review, there’s a specific section on criminal records (pages 25 and 26).

 

He proposes that the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office should:

“Develop a distinct approach to how childhood offending is treated by the criminal records system. (Paragraph 85)

This should include:

  • consideration of distinguishing between under-15s and 15-17 year olds in terms of the retention and disclosure implications of offending; (Paragraph 86)

  • further reductions in the periods before which childhood convictions become spent; (Paragraph 87)

  • all childhood offending (with the exception of the most serious offences)

  • becoming non-disclosable after a period of time; (Paragraph 88) and

  • the circumstances in which police intelligence on childhood conduct can be disclosed being further restricted. The Home Office should consider the introduction of a presumption that police intelligence dating from childhood should not be disclosed except in exceptional circumstances. (Paragraph 89)”

 

In its response, the government said:

“We recognise that criminal records in childhood can impact on future life chances. However, there are a number of cases before the courts in relation to disclosure policy as it currently stands. We also look forward to the findings of the current inquiry being carried out by the Justice Select Committee in this area. We intend to work with the Home Office to consider these and the Taylor Review’s recommendations more fully following the Court’s judgement.”

 

Christopher Stacey, Co-director of Unlock,  said:

“We very much welcome the proposals for reform to childhood criminal records that Charlie Taylor has set out in his report. We encourage the government to undertake proactive work in making these recommendations a reality. The ongoing legal cases challenge a narrow aspect of the system and could be settled if the government withdrew its appeal against the January 2016 ruling in the High Court. Regardless of this, there is a pressing need for work to be undertaken in the meantime, ready for when the Court of Appeal makes it judgement in 2017, and we stand ready to work positively with government on this important issue.”

 

Useful links

  1. We submitted evidence to the review in May 2016
  2. The review, alongside the government’s response, can be downloaded from Gov.uk.

 

Written by Christopher Stacey, Co-director

 

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