Editors’ Code of Practice revised to protect children accused of crime

Laura Rutkowski

The Editors’ Code of Practice has been revised for January 2018 to include three changes – one which offers increased protection to children accused of crime.

The Code sets out rules that newspapers and magazines regulated by the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) have pledged to follow.

It has now been amended to state that Editors should avoid naming children after they are arrested for a criminal offence, but before they appear in court.

The law currently allows newspapers to name children arrested for a crime before they appear in court, when anonymity comes into force. The amended clause says Editors should avoid naming these children.

Youth justice campaigners, including the Standing Committee for Youth Justice, the National Association for Youth Justice and the Children’s Rights Alliance for England called for a change in the Code to protect these children. The Code also distinguishes that these children are young people under the age of 18.

Neil Benson, Chair of the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee and Group Executive Editor of Trinity Mirror, commented: “A great deal of careful thought and debate has gone into the Code review and the ongoing development of the Editors’ Codebook.

“The latest changes strengthen and give even greater clarity to the Code, which sets the professional practice standards for the vast majority of the UK’s journalists.”

There will also be amendments to Clause Two (Privacy) and to Clause 11 (Victims of Sexual Assault).

Clause Two, which was proposed by Associated Newspapers and was supported by IPSO, clarifies that the extent to which material is in the public domain or will become so may be considered in Clause Two complaints.

Clause 11 has now been aligned more closely to the law to emphasise the responsibility that Editors have under the Code to prohibit publication of material that could lead to identifying a victim of sexual assault.

Trinity Mirror submitted the change, which was accepted by IPSO.  

The review was carried out by the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, which is composed of Editors and Lay Members.

They considered several thousand submissions on the Code from a wide range of organisations and members of the public. For the first time, the submissions have been published on the Committee’s website and the Committee has produced a report explaining how it reached its decisions.

Chairman of IPSO Sir Alan Moses said: “The Editors’ Code of Practice is the cornerstone of IPSO’s contractual agreement with the press and I welcome these changes, which further strengthen its protections for the public.

“The new Code, along with the Editors’ Codebook, provides a framework for a trusted, thriving and free press, which is vital to our democracy. It is also important that so many individuals and organisations contributed to these changes through the consultation,” he continued.

The three changes to the Code will be effective from January 1, 2018.  

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