Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Charity Is Backing Call for Crime Age Review; Tees Academic's Campaign Hailed

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Charity Is Backing Call for Crime Age Review; Tees Academic's Campaign Hailed

Article excerpt

Byline: LINDSEY SAMPSON lindsey.sampson@eveninggazette.co.uk

A NATIONAL penal reform charity has welcomed a Teesside University academic's campaign to have the age of criminal responsibility reviewed.

Dr Ray Arthur, a reader in the school of social sciences and law at the university, is lobbying the Government to look at raising the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales from 10 years - the lowest in the European Union - to at least 12 and ideally 14.

He has, along with other prominent members from the National Association for Youth Justice, written an open letter to Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice. In it they claim that holding 10-year-olds criminally liable is a breach of international children's human rights standards and urge the Government to review its position.

He launched his campaign on the back of a report by the Howard League for Penal Reform at the end of 2012, which revealed that six primary school children are being arrested every day and more than 209,000 young people under the age of 11 were detained by police in England and Wales last year.

The figures revealed that in Cleveland, officers made 3,368 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under during 2011, as reported previously in the Gazette.

This represented a 30% fall since 2008, which the charity said was a "huge success" for its campaign to cut child arrests.

Earlier figures showed that between 2008 and 2010, 16 10-year-olds were arrested in Cleveland.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, today welcomed Dr Arthur's move.

She said: "The damage done by having a low age of criminal responsibility is to the children who are sucked into the criminal justice system for bad behaviour due to neglect, abuse or mental health problems. The good news is that the age of criminal responsibility is being addressed by professionals in the interests of children and public safety."

Dr Arthur says it is "inconceivable" that a person cannot consent to sex until the age of 16 and cannot get a part-time job until they are 13, but can acquire a criminal record from the age of 10. …

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