Named and shamed

Am I the only one to feel uncomfortable about a court’s decision to name and shame the silly 16-year-old who typed “Letz start a riot” on Facebook?

There is a 78-year-old legal rule which states that juveniles appearing in a Youth Court should generally not be named in public.

It is a kind and sensible rule that allows offenders to be punished without having their entire lives blighted by a foolish act committed while young and reckless.

The rule was eased in the 1990s. Identifying offenders was allowed where the offending was persistent, serious, affected a large number of people, and where naming might prevent further offences. It was made clear then that using naming and shaming as an additional punishment was unlawful.

So what to do when a daft boy says “Anybody want to start riots in Worcester and Droitwich?”  It sounds bad, and looks worse because it was said in public, but fortunately there were no riots in those places, so no actual harm was done.

Identifying the boy in these circumstances seems an overreaction. Is there anyone alive who did not say something as stupid as this when he was 16?

Did Teresa May, the Home Secretary, who seems to have encouraged this heavy handed treatment, never use wild language as a teenager? Did Linda Griffin, chief magistrate at Worcester Youth Court, not say or do things in her youth which she now regrets?

I name and shame them both.

– GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media Ltd.