UK Age Of Criminal Responsibility "Too Low" Watchdog Says

7 May 2019, 11:39

Increasing the age of criminal responsibility is crucial to stop very young children being exposed to the harmful effects of detention and to protect their future the EHRC said.
Increasing the age of criminal responsibility is crucial to stop very young children being exposed to the harmful effects of detention and to protect their future the EHRC said. Picture: PA

A watchdog has said that the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is "too low" and should be raised.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said that the age which children are held responsible for crimes should be raised to stop children being exposed to the harmful effects of detention.

This means that children under 10 can’t be arrested or charged with a crime. There are other punishments that can be given to children under 10 who break the law.

Hundreds of 10 and 11-year-olds receive cautions or court convictions in England and Wales every year, while taser use on children is increasing.

The EHRC said that the age of responsibility is lower than in many European countries and is "inconsistent with accepted international standards."

David Isaac, chairman of the watchdog, said: "Increasing the age of criminal responsibility is crucial to stop very young children being exposed to the harmful effects of detention and to protect their future."

The Ministry of Justice hit back, saying that a low age of criminal responsibility allows them to catch and divert offenders at a younger age.

An MoJ spokeswoman said: "Younger children who offend are often diverted from the justice system or dealt with out of court and, in the last decade, there has been an 86% reduction in the number of under 18-year-olds entering the youth justice system."

The Government said it is "committed to ensuring people in custody are treated fairly and appropriately."

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