Teen offenders are 'young persons' not 'youths'... it might upset them, say ministers

08:10 by Editor · 0 Post a comment on AAWR

It is not a word usually associated with causing offence, even when those referred to have broken the law.

But 'youth' has been banned from guidelines on the treatment of criminals aged 16 and 17 - because ministers think it is too demeaning.

Instead, offenders must be referred to as 'young persons' in the latest code for prosecutors. The newly fashionable phrase is used 101 times in the document.

The change of wording was mocked yesterday by the Tories, who described it as the 'bizarre' invention of a new taboo.

Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve added: 'Yet again, ministers have shown that they are more bothered about pandering to political correctness than coming down hard on the crime and antisocial behaviour that blights communities.'

The code for prosecutors on issuing Youth Conditional Cautions to 16- and 17-year- olds has been rewritten following a consultation over an early draft.

Officials at Jack Straw's Ministry of Justice and Ed Balls's Department of Children, Schools and Families said: 'A number of responses suggested the term "youth" had negative connotations and should be replaced by "young persons".'

Disapproval of language considered to give the wrong impression has been a hallmark of Labour's years in power.

Its Youth Justice Board has tried to prevent 'gang' in case it criminalises youngsters who gather together. It prefers crime committed by such gatherings to be described as 'group-related'.

Similarly, Scotland Yard refers to 'group rape' or 'multi-perpetrator rape' to avoid 'emotive' language.

Even prison officers have been told to observe correct priorities by addressing inmates as 'Mr'.

However, 'youth' appears likely to cling on for some time in government lingo. continues here

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