Investigating The Age Of Criminal Responsibility Criminology Essay

The undermentioned research efforts to research and discourse the condemnable age of duty in England and Wales. A questionnaire was given out to a sample population in order to estimate public sentiment on and around this subject. Secondary information was gathered, such as books, diaries and on-line resources, in order to discourse and research different ways of covering with juvenile wrongdoers. Overall, the grounds indicates a strong statement for the age of condemnable duty to be raised but deficient grounds was gathered to find clearly which juvenile justness attack is most effectual.

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The age of condemnable duty is the age at which a kid can be considered an grownup for intents of condemnable prosecution. In England and Wales, the condemnable age of duty is set at age 10 and is one of the lowest in Europe, with merely Switzerland being lower at age seven. States such as Uganda, Algeria, China and the Russian Federation, all have political governments that could arguably be considered as terrible and inordinate, yet, all these states have set the condemnable age of duty at over 10 old ages, YJB [ online ] .

In England and Wales the age of condemnable duty has non changed since 1963, when it was raised from age eight to ten. Until 1988 a policy was in topographic point to safe guard kids between the ages of 10 and 14 ; under this policy kids were presumed incapable of organizing necessary condemnable purpose unless proven otherwise by the prosecution, House of Commons Library [ online ] . In March of this twelvemonth, Scotland raised the age of condemnable duty from age eight to twelve old ages ; England and Wales have no programs to alter the age at present. YJB [ online ] .

Therefore, grounds shows that there is no clear understanding on what is an acceptable age to be treated as an grownup under the legal power of the jurisprudence.

Literature reappraisal

Morrison, Blake. ( 1997 ) . As If. London: Granta Publications.

Blake Morrison attended the test of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson and in his book gives a sensitive history of the households involved in the Bulger instance. Morrison describes a condemnable justness system that is concerned with lone facts and arguably lacks the apprehension needed when covering with such sensitive instances affecting kids of such a immature age.

Williams, John. ( 2010 ) ‘ASBO Nation ‘ . Sociology Review. 19, ( 4 ) , p2-6.

Sociology Review is an academic magazine aimed at A-level sociology pupils. It covers a wide scope of sociological subjects including political relations, instruction, and faith and of class offense and aberrance. In this issue of the magazine it covered a subject on anti societal behavior orders, which proved utile when discoursing juvenile offense.

Children & A ; Young People Now [ on-line ] Available from

hypertext transfer protocol: // [ accessed 19th June 2010 ]

‘Children and Young People Now ‘ is a Journal available in print and on line. It aims to convey together kids and young person professionals across wellness, societal attention, instruction, child care, young person work and young person justness, to supply advice and counsel to directors and senior practicians working with kids and immature people. It features many relevant intelligence articles and current issues refering kids and immature people and is a sure beginning of information used by professionals working within this country.

The Howard conference for Penal Reform. [ on-line ] Frances Crook ‘s Blog ( updated 1st April 2010 ) Available from hypertext transfer protocol: // [ accessed Saturday 19th June 2010 ]

French republics Crook is the manager of the Howard League for Penal Reform, the oldest penal reform charity in the U.K. She has been responsible for research programmes and runs to raise public concern, approximately among other things, immature people in problem. Throughout her calling she has worked as a instructor in secondary schools every bit good as taking the place of Governor of Greenwich University. In 2005 she was awarded the Perrie Award which is awarded to persons who have made a significant part to the development of condemnable justness or penal policy and pattern. Therefore, Crook ‘s long calling working with kids and within the condemnable justness system gives her valuable penetration into the most effectual ways of covering with child offense.

Youth Justice Board. [ on-line ] Cross-national comparing of young person justness Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ accessed Saturday 19th June 2010 ]

The young person justness board ( YJB ) , oversees the young person justness system in England and Wales. It works to forestall offending by kids and immature people under the age of 18 and ensures that detention for them is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour.A It enables entree to studies and statute laws and is a valuable and dependable resource refering young person offense.

Home office [ online ] Available from: hypertext transfer protocol: // [ accessed 1st July 2010 ]

The place office is a Government section that trades with, among other things, drugs, policy, constabulary and offense. During this research it proved utile as a usher to the workings of the condemnable justness system in England and Wales. It is besides linked to many studies and statistics that were used within this research. Bing an official Government section, the information is extremely dependable.


The media is afloat with studies of juvenile offense – with narratives of anti-social behavior to more violent offenses such as the slaying carried out by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, Blake Morrison, ( As If ) . In 1998 the Anti Social Behaviour Order was introduced, and since so the term ‘asbo kid ‘ has become portion of the English linguistic communication, Sociology reappraisal, vol 19, ( p2-6 ) . Gun and stab offenses are high and recent studies claim that the ambulance and exigency services in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, dealt with six hundred and 70 nine gunshot lesions in people under the age of 20 five in the 12 months taking to October 2009, BBC Newsbeat online. Therefore, the condemnable age of duty is frequently the focal point of much treatment. In visible radiation of the recent studies of Jon Venables being taken back into detention [ online ] , the Children ‘s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson reportedly called for the authorities to raise the age of condemnable duty, from age 12 to fourteen, Children and Young People Now [ on-line ] . This statement is supported by the Chairman of The Criminal Bar association, Paul Mendelle QC, who is reported as stating that he besides believes that the age of condemnable duty should be raised to age 14 ; he is besides reported as naming for a return to the old policy of Doli Incapax. However the Ministry of Justice maintains that kids over the age of 10s know the difference between bad behaviour and serious error, Children and immature people now [ on-line ] . Therefore, grounds shows a deficiency of understanding refering the set age of condemnable duty. Consequently, it could be argued that the current system would profit from research to assist find a more universally acceptable age to be held reprehensively duty.


The purposes of this research are:

To research different ways of covering with immature wrongdoers in England and Wales, to assist find ways that could better the current system.

To discourse whether age 10 is a sensible age for kids to be held reprehensively responsible for their actions, within the legal power of the jurisprudence.

To mensurate public sentiment on whether the condemnable age of duty should be changed in England and Wales.

The experimental Hypothesis and void Hypothesis

A bulk of the populace in England and Wales feel that the condemnable age of duty should be set higher than age 10.

This research predicts that the bulk will experience that the age of condemnable duty should be raised and therefore it is a one-tailed hypothesis.

Under the void hypothesis we would anticipate no clear bulk to be revealed on either side of the statement.


An unfastened questionnaire was used to garner qualitative, primary informations ( appendix A ) ; 18 participants were chosen from varied demographic backgrounds to assist give a valid representation of the larger population, of England and Wales. Their ages ranged from 18 to seventy four and consisted of both males and females and both parents and non-parent. The participants were verbally briefed on the nature of the subject and the questionnaire had a brief written debut explicating the basic history and facts of the topic. They were told that all replies would be regarded as anon. and that they had the right to retreat their replies if they so wished. Using an unfastened questionnaire enabled the respondents to be guided through the topical inquiries whilst still holding the flexibleness to to the full show their feelings on the subject. Besides, infinite was provided for any farther remarks the participants wished to do. After the interview participants were asked to subscribe a consent signifier giving their permission for the information to be used in sociological research ( appendix B ) .


Out of 18 respondents, merely under half felt that the age of condemnable duty should be set higher than age ten. Merely over half of the respondents felt that kids of age 10s do non to the full understand the effects of their actions. When asked ‘should more duty be placed upon the parents of immature wrongdoers ‘ , all but one respondent felt that it should, therefore back uping the thought that the current system in England and Wales does non work sufficiently. Contradictory to this grounds, when asked, ‘do you feel that the current system works sufficiently ‘ , merely two tierces of the respondents felt that it did non ; many respondents felt that they did non cognize plenty about the current system to give a valid answer. When asked for their thoughts on bettering the current system, respondent ‘s replies were varied and included: more subject at place, stronger penalty for parents and more engagement from relevant organic structures i.e. public assistance workers etc.

Therefore the questionnaire supports the original purposes of the probe. It was utile in estimating public sentiment on whether the condemnable age of duty should be changed and it enabled the respondents to show their sentiments on whether age 10 is a sensible age for kids to be held reprehensively responsible for their actions. Lastly it gave infinite for respondents to give any thoughts they had refering the betterment of the current system


Overall the research indicates that there is a strong statement for raising the condemnable age of duty ; this is supported by both primary and secondary informations. Many people feel that kids of age 10s do non to the full understand the effects of their actions. Besides, grounds indicates that there is a strong feeling amongst the populace that more duty should be placed upon parents ; when asked, all but one respondent agreed that parents should take more duty for their kids ‘s behavior. Last, the primary informations from this research indicates that many people feel that the current juvenile justness system does non work sufficiently in England and Wales.

The consequences from the questionnaire support bing grounds ; for illustration there is much grounds to back up a alteration in the age of condemnable duty in England and Wales. One such statement was put frontward by the kids ‘s commissioner Maggie Atkinson ; who when mentioning to the slaying of James Bulger ( James was murdered by two 10 twelvemonth old male childs in 1993, Morrison, As If ) is reported as stating ‘Venables and Thompson should non hold been tried for slaying, at age 10 they were excessively immature to understand the full effects of their actions ‘ Guardian [ online ] . French republics Crook, the Director of The Howard League for Penal Reform besides supports Atkinson statement and compares the legal system of England and Wales with that of other states in Europe. In her web log, Crook points out that the condemnable age of duty in England and Wales is one of the youngest in Europe and she goes on to reason that kids in these states are non ignored if they do incorrectly but alternatively their immatureness is recognized and the response is appropriate, Frances Crook ‘s Blog [ online ] . This statement is besides supported by the president of the condemnable saloon association, Paul Mendelle, who called for the age to be raised from age ten to

14. In an interview in the Telegraph Mendelle is reported as stating, ‘a kid of 10 can cognize he or she is making something incorrect and non ever appreciate it is reprehensively incorrect ‘ kids and immature people now [ on-line ] . In his book As If, Blake Morrison once more supports this attitude and suggests that kids of 10s are non able to move on their apprehension of right and incorrect with the same strong belief as grownups ; he goes on to reason that, if kids of 10 know the difference between right and incorrect so why non allow them be jurymans? ( As If, chapter 5 ) .

Although there is much support for the condemnable age of duty to be raised, it has been refused by the Ministry of Justice, which maintains that kids of age 10 and over can distinguish between bad behaviour and serious incorrect making, Children and Young People Now [ on-line ] . Many people have similar sentiments as the primary informations of this research illustrates, merely under half of the respondents felt that age ten is a sensible age to be held reprehensively responsible for your actions. Other than public sentiment, there is small grounds of a similar attitude ; many high profile and academic people agree that age 10 is non an appropriate age but other than the Ministry of Justice, no academic sentiment was found to back up the other side of this statement.

Research illustrates two chief attitudes towards covering with immature wrongdoers: the public assistance attack and the justness attack. The public assistance attack emphasises paternalism and protection and therefore focal points on handling the root causes of juvenile offense ; whereas the justness attack emphasises judicial rights, answerability for offenses and formal penalty, Cross-national comparing of young person justness [ online ] . It could be argued that most condemnable justness systems can be traced back to either the public assistance or justness attack but most are more varied and complex and include elements of both. Harmonizing to the Home Office Youth Lifestyle Survey ( 1998/99 ) [ on-line ] , cardinal factors linked with serious and/or persistent wrongdoers between the ages of 12 and 17 was found to be:

Drugs – kids that had used drugs within a 12 month period were about fives times more likely to pique than those that had non.

School – kids that were unhappy in school or were relentless hooky players were found to be more likely to pique.

Family and equals – kids that had household and friends who had offended were found to be more likely to pique themselves.

Besides kids that did non hold sufficient supervising and counsel, and /or hung around in public topographic points, were found to be more likely to pique than those that did non.

Extra research into the grounds why kids offend is good to offense bar bureaus in turn toing and forestalling juvenile offense. Much research supports the thought that bar is the cheapest and most successful manner of covering with offense ; surveies in America have shown that ‘one dollar spent on early bar will salvage seven dollars 14 old ages subsequently ‘ , immature people and offense [ online ] . Therefore, the root causes of young person offense are of great involvement to Sociologists and Governments likewise.

The undermentioned paragraphs purpose to research and compare two similar condemnable instances, so as to find ways that could better the current system in England and Wales. The first offense took topographic point in 1993 in Merseyside, England. Two twelvemonth old James Bulger was taken from a shopping Centre by two 10 twelvemonth old male childs, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. Venables and Thompson wandered around with James for several hours before crushing him and go forthing him tied to a railroad path ; when the kid was eventually found his organic structure had been cut in half by a passing train. The two male childs, Venables and Thompson were tried and convicted of slaying in an grownup tribunal – which in contrast to youth tribunals allows public and media entree – and accordingly spent eight old ages in detention before being released in 2001 with protected individuality ‘s, Morrison, As if. In 2010 Venables was taken back into detention but the ground has non been made clear to the populace. There has been no intelligence on Thompson and so it may be assumed that he has settled back into mainstream society with no major jobs.

A similar offense was committed in 1994, in the Norse metropolis of Tronheim. Five twelvemonth old Silje Raedergard was stoned and left to stop dead to decease in snow, by two six twelvemonth old male childs, BBC News, How Norway dealt with it ‘s Bulger instance [ online ] . In contrast to the Bulger violent death, the two male childs responsible for killing Silje were non prosecuted or named in the imperativeness but alternatively were treated as victims, non slayers. The male childs were left with their households and returned to kindergarten shortly after the incident and public assistance and psychological aid was given to them. All that is known of the two male childs today is that one has settled back into mainstream society and the other still has ongoing psychiatric jobs.

Therefore it could be argued that while these two instances were dealt with really otherwise, the results are similar. One of the male childs responsible for Silje ‘s decease has adjusted to normal life but the other still receives psychiatric aid. Likewise, Venables has been returned to detention but Thompson so far has non. Little more is published about the male childs or households concerned in these instances, which leaves many inquiries un-answered refering the long term effects of both methods of reform. Statisticss show ( appendix C ) that the one-year entire offense rate in 2002, in the U.K. is over 6.5 million compared to Norway which is merely over 330,000 ; this could arguably be an indicant that the juvenile justness system in Norway is more efficient than of that in England and Wales, The Eighth United Nations Survey [ online ] .

Restrictions of the methodological analysis

Keeping the focal point of this research simple proved hard because the topic of condemnable duty is highly huge. Finding Government studies and statistics that were specifically related to the subject was besides hard and clip consuming. Besides, garnering a sample that is representative of the wider population is disputing when clip and resources are limited. Therefore the primary informations gathered in this research was arguably limited and a larger population sample may hold given more valid consequences. Not all of the questionnaires were returned and some people felt that they did non cognize plenty about the subject to do valid remarks. Therefore a more in-depth debut or briefing may hold been good. Possibly a focal point group would hold been a more utile method of garnering primary informations as it would of enabled the participants to to the full discourse their thoughts and ideas on the topic before make up one’s minding on any decisions.

In decision, the grounds gathered in this research supports the hypothesis ; there is much grounds – both primary and secondary – that suggests that the condemnable age of duty should be set higher than age 10. Different ways of covering with juvenile offense was explored and statistics were gathered to assist find which system proves to be most sufficient. Arguably, lower offense rates in Norway indicates that the public assistance attack – which is the most dominant factor in the Norse system – is more effectual than the justness attack, that is more dominant in England and Wales but as the comparing of condemnable instances show, any difference is minimum and non sufficient to do any bold decisions.


If farther research were to be carried out, I would urge that ;

More clip is taken to look into other juvenile justness systems, such as that of Norway.

A larger population sample would be utile to estimate a more valid public sentiment.

A focal point group would be utile to enable participants to discourse and reply any questions they have.


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