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too not understand UKs low age of crinemal responseabilty

(32 Posts)
worridmum Tue 19-Feb-13 01:07:04

I dont understand why England, Wales and Northern Ireland have one of if not lowest age of responsebilty in the developed world even lower then the UN recomended age of responsebilty. (If I rember correctly Scotland is higher)

If I rember correctly the government at the time lowered to age so that the bulger killers could be tried as prevously they would of fallen bellow age of responseabilty.

I think I am being unreasonable to think its silly having the age so low in comparson with the rest of Europe and in most states of the USA and most other developed nations and even against the recomendations of the UN.

Maybe England needs this as we are struggling with one of the highest youth crimes in Europe which to me indicates something somewhere is serously wrong here as nations with higher populations are not suffering from these levels of youth crime (eg Germany and France).

I am being unreasonable to suggest we need to invest time and money to discover what is going wrong with Brithish society as a whole so we can treat the cause of these problems rather then just the syptoms.

Am sorry if this is the wrong place am relitavly new to posting here and this is my thread. And am also sorry about the spelling and grammer from this post I am dyslexic posting on a phone without a spell check.

HeySoulSister Tue 19-Feb-13 01:24:37

I think it's fine tbh....

AdoraBell Tue 19-Feb-13 01:32:10

Here in Chile thieves and burglars get their teen DS's to do their dirty work because as minors, under 18, they walk away scot free. Once they are legally adults they then send younger rellies and friend's to steal.

What age would you recommend? Genuine question, I really am interested in your thoughts on age and reasons behind the age you think is appropriate.

HollyBerryBush Tue 19-Feb-13 07:01:07

If I rember correctly the government at the time lowered to age so that the bulger killers could be tried as prevously they would of fallen bellow age of responseabilty.

You remember incorrectly, the age of criminal responsibility was laid down in Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

I think I am being unreasonable to think its silly having the age so low in comparson with the rest of Europe

Depends really. Criminal responsibility in Spain is 16, but the age of consent is 13. I see the anomoly in being considered ready for a sexual relationship yet the legal inability to see stealing a bar of chocolate is wrong.

To put it in context, the age of Criminal Responsibility in Scotland is 8, and Switzerland it is 7.

NulliusInBlurba Tue 19-Feb-13 07:19:30

Germany differentiates legally between 'children', who are under 14, and 'young people' (Jugendliche) who are from 14 to 17. Children are not criminally responsible at all. Young people are responsible and can be tried in a youth court, but it is also the age of consent (in other words, there is no age disparity between the two, which is the case in Spain) and young people get other rights, like being allowed to stay out after 10pm without an adult present. 14 seems to be a good age for defining criminal responsibility.

Britain is schizophrenic in its treatment of children - lots of parents on here saying 'I won't let my 10yo stay overnight or go on a school trip or stay alone at home for 5 mins - they're just little really' - but then justifying kids being tried for murder as if they were adults. You can't pick and choose like that.

"Switzerland it is 7." Switzerland is an utterly potty country - hardly a place we want to be taking ethical guidance from! I'm doing a translation right now on the history of a Swiss organisation and the underlying racism and sexism is quite scary.

HollyBerryBush Tue 19-Feb-13 07:22:22

I only pointed out Switzerland as it is the lowest one I found.

I like your summary in your 2nd paragraph.

LindyHemming Tue 19-Feb-13 07:23:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NulliusInBlurba Tue 19-Feb-13 07:27:20

"nations with higher populations are not suffering from these levels of youth crime (eg Germany and France)."

You're absolutely right, worrid - certainly in Germany the level of youth crime is I believe lower because there is more concept of responsibility to society, and of belonging to society. You have a moral duty to behave well, not just because a punishment will follow. But children are also brought up to become independent gradually, and to make responsible choices (they're encouraged to travel to junior schools by themselves, for instance - DD2 started going on the bus by herself at 9, and accompanied her older sister when she was 7). In the UK it seems some kids are plonked on electronic devices to keep them quiet, given no responsibility until a ridiculously late age, wrapped in cotton wool, and then at 14 or 15 they launch full into a wild life of alcohol and sex, totally naive and clueless, and make crap decisions. Some of which include crime.

AKissIsNotAContract Tue 19-Feb-13 07:29:27

What is the uk age of responsibility? Is it 10?

LindyHemming Tue 19-Feb-13 07:31:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HollyBerryBush Tue 19-Feb-13 07:34:24

Yes, England, Wales and NI it is 10

Rhiannon86 Tue 19-Feb-13 07:36:49

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

PatienceALittleThin Tue 19-Feb-13 07:43:15

I think it's too variable at 10. I would imagine that most 10 year olds have grasped the idea that killing someone is wrong, but do they really, fully understand that pushing someone in anger is wrong? When my daughter was that age she knew that doing certain things was against the law but she didn't have a grasp of the consequences of doing it anyway, other than being in trouble with me. Add to that lack of impulse control and immaturity and being held criminally responsible seems completely bonkers.

On the other hand, I've met some kids who seem way older than their years and who seem to know full well what they're doing.

PatienceALittleThin Tue 19-Feb-13 07:45:03

Old enough to do the crime, old enough to do the time!

So a toddler caught pinching a tube of smarties in the newsagents is old enough to get prosecuted for shoplifting? hmm

Twogoodreasons Tue 19-Feb-13 07:53:31

Holly is correct there has been no change in the age of criminal responsibility. What did change in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 was that the need to rebut the presumption that a child between the ages of 10 and 14 was incapable of forming criminal intent (Doli Incapax) was removed. Before then you had to prove that a child between those ages knew the difference between right and wrong. This was necessary in the trial of Venables and Thompson But wasn't particularly difficult for the prosecution. The removal of the presumption of Doli Incapax followed the Bulger trial and capitalised on a wave of fear about the criminal capabilities of children, but I am not aware that it was directly motivated by that case.

I think you make some interesting points and of course, just because we are saying that children who commit criminal acts below the age of responsibility should not enter the criminal justice system, it does not mean that we cannot intervene and involve them in restorative justice processes.

ComposHat Tue 19-Feb-13 08:02:42

In the past, I've worked for Youth Offending Teams in England & Scotland and despite having a lower age of criminal responsibility, Scotland has a far more enlightened approach.
The system of children's hearings, which are child centred and place welfare, supervision and support ahead of punishment. It is especially good for younger children and those with complex family needs. (Serious cases aren't dealt with at Children's Hearings) but is less effective with older kids. There is also scope for social workers to show discretion and keep children out of hearing all together.

The English model is more criminal justice lead and is extraordinarily prescriptive. Kids of ten would be getting Referral Orders (which are quite intense offence-led programmes complete with community service style work of up to 30 hours) for comparatively trivial 'offences' one had chucked a water bomb at another kid which didn't even burst, scuffles in the playground, kids kicking doors and walls in their own homes causing 'criminal damage' etc. at the age of ten. At that age they understood they'd done something 'naughty' but not the difference between criminal and non-criminal behaviour. It was like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.

HollyBerryBush Tue 19-Feb-13 08:02:57

So a toddler caught pinching a tube of smarties in the newsagents is old enough to get prosecuted for shoplifting?

The Victorians had chimneys for reasons wink

We keep harking back to RT and JV as prime examples but there are a lot more children out there who have committed serious, violent crimes at a similar age. Because they are protected, rightly, from being ID'd we generally don't get to hear about it, it often remains in the localised press rather than going national.

Those of us in secondary schools tend to become fairly desensitised quickly; I've seen some things I would not believe a 12/13/14yo capable of. I've seen what YOI does to them, often a salvagable child, when locked up with like individuals also becomes hardened and frequently leaves the system worse than when they entered it. It's a survival mechanism, otherwise they would be buggered, quite literally. Their base survival instincts come to the fore, usually manifesting in excessive violence to protect themselves.

But I don't know the solution; I don't think the secure units we have now are working effectively but they have to be punished. Punish, rehabilitated, I would prefer rehabilitated. But it is so difficult to do that when they are mixing with sometimes worse individuals. It all very Lord of the Flies.

Onlyconnect Tue 19-Feb-13 08:06:43

I don't think it's just about children not knowing what's right or wrong. Most know this before ten. It's also about being able to have perspective on what one is like/ how one has been brought up. A child of ten might 'know' stealing is wrong but if they have seen stealing around them all their life, parents might do it, friends etc or they might hear it spoken about as if it's a normal part of life, then not many ten year olds are going to be able to distance themselves from that. There are many adults who, brought up in a criminal environment now chose to live differently but I'd bet not many of them had made that break by the age of ten.

Tee2072 Tue 19-Feb-13 08:11:46

Maybe not a toddler, but I would hope a 10 year old would know stealing is wrong.

And even a toddler can be taught it isn't right and be made to take the thing back and say sorry.*

*Provided verbal and no SNs and blah blah blah disclaimer.

HollyBerryBush Tue 19-Feb-13 08:28:33

I would hope a 10 year old would know stealing is wrong.

There are codes of conduct within stealing though. There are people like this, you see threads on here all the time - the mail order company sent me something I didnt order, should I keep it? I found something, should I keep it? and so forth, should I use the DCs money box to pay for the electric? Should I keep a tenner I found on the street?

You don't steal from your family (unless you are a drug addict), you don't steal in your immediate neighbour hood (because they are likely to be like-individuals), you don't shoplift (unless you are hungry because that mad vicar said it was ok), you don't keep lost purses if they have an address - you do however have a small gloat if a large multinational corporation has made a mistake in your favour.

There are grades of stealing - nothing in this world is black and white.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Tue 19-Feb-13 08:31:39

I don't think you can have murders and rapists waiting the street no matter how young they are. If they are that twisted at 10 then imagine how they are gonna be at 15,19, 34 etc. maybe intervention at a younger age can stop them and give them a chance to be rehabilitated.

It's getting scary how young such horrendous crimes r being committed. Shop lifting is nothing in comparison and that's bad enough. sad

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Tue 19-Feb-13 08:32:02


Startail Tue 19-Feb-13 08:37:24

As a parent who sends an odd ball, prone to being bullied DD off to school on the bus each day, I am entirely happy that any peer who assaults her knows the police can be called.

I'm certain that shops near secondary schools are happy that theft will be treated as theft.

If the age of CR was 12 some Y7s would be over and some under, that clearly has scope for mischief.

I've also have had shops say they have families that use under tens to steal for them. You would hope that at that age the police and SS are very clear they aren't doing it alone. The higher the age of criminal responsibility the easier it is to say that they were.

Ten isn't perfect, 13 would be better in many respects, except that starting secondary is such a clear change in adult supervision for many DCs. Yes by 13 most NT DCs certainly are mature enough to be certain of right from wrong and maybe many 10 year olds may not realise the absolute seriousness of their actions, but it is the one absolutely clear point to say you are growing up now.

I'm sure the police and courts are able to operate some discretion for DCs whose lack of maturity or family background need considering.

HollyBerryBush Tue 19-Feb-13 08:40:15

There is no effective system for rehabilitation in the Uk, for minors.

90% of the time they need to be removed from their home environment and effectively retaught right from wrong. That makes me sound a bit of a fluffy liberal, which I'm not! but putting 20 like individual in a secure unit isn't (IMHO) the right thing either.

Onlyconnect Tue 19-Feb-13 09:29:13

Just because someone isn't put into the criminal justice system it doesn't mean there can't be other systems to deal with them. In this country ( don't know about others) we seem to be in love with the CJS (while at the same time slating it) as the only solution yet all the evidence is that it has a poor success rate at preventing future crime. Surely the number 1 aim with a 10 year old would have to be preventing them entering a whole life of crime. Putting them into the CJS is not likely to achieve this.

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