A child or young person under the age of 18 will be treated differently by the Criminal Justice System if they commit a crime. In such cases, significant weight must be given to the age of the child.
The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10, this means that a child under 10 cannot be arrested or take into court.
If a child under 10 does commit a crime, they may be given a Child Safety Curfew or a Child Safety Order.
Child Safety Curfew
An order from the police which bans a child from being outside between the hours of 9pm and 6am without an adult.
Child Safety Order
If a child breaks a curfew order they can be given a safety order which places them under the supervision of a youth offending team.
Can a Child That Commits a Crime be Identified?
When a child or young person between the ages of 10 and 17 commits a crime, their details will not be disclosed to members of the public outside of the court.
Whilst bona fide members of the press may be allowed inside the court, reporting restrictions will be in place to prevent the name, home address or school of the offender being revealed. Restrictions on photography will also be in place to ensure that no images are released that could reveal the identity of the offender.
Restrictions on revealing the identity of the child may be challenged (often by the press) once proceedings have ended.
Children aged between 10 and 17 will be dealt with in Youth Court which differs to a court in which an adult trial would be held in.
Cases held at a Youth Court may be overseen by three magistrates or one District Judge. During these hearings, defendants will be addressed by their first name. Cases including theft, burglary, anti-social behaviour and drugs offences may be held at a Youth Court, but those that are more serious will be transferred to the Crown Court.
Special measures are often put in place in a Youth Court to help support victims and witnesses give evidence, and lessen the anxiety of attending a court hearing.
Witnesses Under 10
The Young Witness Initiative which came into effect in 2015, means the CPS, police and HMCTS expedite cases that involve a witness under the age of 10.
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