NYAS ALC report - Media access to family courts - ‘Next Steps’  - Views of Children and Young People

Click here to read and download the NYAS ALC report by Dr Julia Brophy based on a Consultation with young people regarding the ‘Next Steps’ proposals  in media access to family proceedings.

The views of young people reflect those expressed in earlier consultations and research in this field (Report based on research commissioned by the Office for the Children’s Commission (2010): they say the proposals put already vulnerable children and young people at an unacceptable risk and that, when the changes are put to young people it will impact on their willingness and ability to engage with the process. Clinicians and other welfare and legal professionals have reiterated this concern with an example of where a young person withdrew serious allegations of sexual assault in the face of potential media attendance at a family court hearing.

In addition, young people argue that there are better and more reliable methods to address both any concerns about the work of the family court and avenues to place accurate information before the wider public. 

Young people think their views have been ignored in policy debate.  Moreover, they said that despite changes to the rules in 2009 young people are not informed about media attendance at hearings; they said young people must be told about this development and at a time when they can make informed decisions and choices about participation.  They point out that a failure to tell a young person about media access issues both is unethical and a breach of their rights under Article 12 of the UNCRC.

These developments do little to improve young people’s trust in the family justice system or to confirm that their views are taken seriously.  In the face of poor practices by parents, professionals and the media, children and young people look to family judges to protect them both within but also, where necessary, following proceedings.

We ask you to bear these views and experiences in mind when considering your response to the proposals contained in the Next Steps consultation paper