There is now an overwhelming view shared by the higher courts and MPs that the government should act immediately to ensure no child who is given a caution ends up with a criminal record that stigmatises them for life.
Enver Solomon, CEO, Just for Kids Law
Everyone should have the opportunity to move on from things that happened when they were children - but the current system for retention and disclosure of youth criminal records means that many people accused of minor crimes in childhood are unable to do so. A 2017 inquiry by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee found that this undermines the ability of the youth justice system to steer children away from crime. Instead, children find themselves trapped by their past and unable to fulfill their potential.
In 2019, we secured a landmark Supreme Court judgment on the disclosure of youth reprimands and cautions. Youth reprimands and cautions are supposed to divert children away from the criminal justice system when they are accused of minor crimes, but under the current regime some reprimands and cautions can appear on police checks for decades after they were issued. The Supreme Court rightly decided that this system is disproportionate and damaging to the future rehabilitation of children, preventing them from moving on from their past.
What happened next?
Since the ruling, we have continued to monitor the situation and push the government to implement the judgment through a change to the law, as well as calling on the government to ask the Law Commission to conduct a root and branch review of the criminal records systems for children and young people to ensure criminal records do not blight their lives indefinitely.