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Anonymity

Anonymity in criminal cases means someone’s name, address, photograph and other information that might identify them (such as their school or place of work) is not revealed in the newspapers, on television or on the internet.1

In court, anonymity is protected by reporting restrictions.  There is an automatic ban on the identification of children in youth court proceedings.2 In the adult magistrates’ court and Crown Court, a judge will decide whether to grant anonymity.3 Criminal trials will usually take place in open court with the public knowing as much as possible about the case but there are special considerations in relation to children.

“Because the defendant is a child … his or her future progress may well be assisted by restricting publication. Publication could well have a significant effect on the prospects and opportunities of the young person, and, therefore, on the likelihood of effective integration into society. Identifying a defendant in the media may constitute an additional and disproportionate punishment on the child or young person. In rare cases … the child or young person may be at serious personal risk if identified.”4

The court must consider:

  • the welfare of the child5
  • the child’s best interests as a primary consideration6
  • the child’s right to privacy in legal proceedings7

 

In civil and family proceedings, the courts have a discretion to grant anonymity.8 The courts also have the power to grant anonymity or restrict reporting in relation  to Anti-Social Behaviour OrdersCriminal Behaviour Orders and Anti-Social Behaviour civil injunctions.9

 

  1. The definition of reporting restrictions was extended to include online reporting on 13 April 2015, see our legal update here  (back)
  2. Reporting restrictions automatically apply – section 49 Children and Young Persons Act 1933  (back)
  3. Section 45 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, prior to 13 April 2015 reporting restrictions were made under section 39 Children and Young Persons Act 1933  (back)
  4. R(Y) v Aylesbury Youth Court [2012] EWHC 1140 (Admin)  (back)
  5. Section 44 Children and Young Persons Act 1933  (back)
  6. Article 3(1) United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989  (back)
  7. Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights, Article 40 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (“the Beijing Rules”), Recommendation No. R(87)20 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, adopted on September 17, 1987.  (back)
  8. Section 39 Children and Young Persons Act 1933, as amended by section 79 Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015  (back)
  9. Section 39 Children and Young Persons Act 1933  (back)