Children should not receive criminal records for “trivial” misdemeanors such as sexting and fighting, a committee of MPs has urged.
Police should be given more freedom to respond differently to low-level crime-related behaviour to stop children receiving criminal records unnecessarily, a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) found.
It calls for an overhaul of police procedures to improve the relationship with children and combat mutual mistrust.
It warns that Home Office rules give police officers only limited options when recording criminal behaviour. Many children receive “out of court disposals” for minor misdeeds that needlessly give them a criminal record.
Baroness Massey of Darwen, the co-chair of the APPGC, said: “The rules that dictate how the police record their response to criminal behaviour mean that many young people end up with a criminal record for trivial offences. We know that teenagers are being added to police databases for sexting with their peers.
“In cases such as these, police should have the discretion to refer the child to another agency for support – their school, social services or counselling, for example – without it forming a permanent part of the record held against their name and undermining their future.”