IN MOST criminal cases young offenders under 18 are given anonymity, in line with the Children and Young Person?s Act 1933. Children in adoption proceedings under the Children Act 1989 can also not be named.

But magistrates can allow defendants to be named in criminal cases if they think that the merits of publicity outweigh anonymity. 
 
A spokeswoman for the Magistrates? Association said: ?It is quite a complicated decision and courts will weigh several factors in each case. These will include whether naming a young person would be seen as a ?badge of honour? and make them more of a hero. They will consider whether it would make the work of probation officers more difficult, or social services ? who might be perhaps working with the family or another sibling, and not want that work harmed by publicity. There is also the question of whether naming a young person would make them vulnerable to vigilante-style attack,? she said. That was why a young person charged with a more serious crime may sometimes not be named.

The naming of young people has increased with the arrival of antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs). The Home Secretary has made clear that publicity should be part of the imposing of these orders, to drive home the message that offenders are not above the law and to help local communities to join in tackling the offending behaviour.

Guidance to local authorities makes clear that publicity should be the norm, not the exception. But newspapers have expressed concern that, although courts may allow the naming of juveniles who are the subject of ASBOs, they refuse to allow the same young person to be named when convicted of the criminal offence of breaching an ASBO.

Next month the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act will end the automatic anonymity currently enjoyed by juveniles who are accused of breaching ASBOs.

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