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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Law
  • Word count: 3423

The Age Of Criminal Responsibility

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

1. Obtain and use a range of researched material. > Research an issue of interest using a range of sources - this may include primary and secondary methods of research. > Analyse and evaluate the credibility of each source, ensuring that you consider possible bias. > Analyse and evaluate the material for use in a group discussion. > Extract factual information that will enable you to present a strong argument. > Create a bibliography. (LO3) My issue of interest is: "The age of criminal responsibility in the UK" The current law in England & Wales regarding the age of criminal responsibility states: A child who is aged under ten is irrefutably presumed to be incapable of committing an offence. Prior to 1998, a child aged between 10 and 14 was presumed to be incapable of committing an offence unless the prosecution were able to prove that the child knew the difference between right and wrong. Now, children aged between 10 and 17 are capable of committing offences and it is not possible for a child to avoid liability by showing he does not know the difference between right and wrong. However, a child should not be found guilty if he is unfit to plead. In exceptional circumstances, most notably the case of the murder of James Bulger in Liverpool in 1993, children can be tried as an adult in an adult court. This case set a precedent and maintained the age of criminal responsibility at 10. From the age of 17 onwards, individuals are then considered an adult in the eyes of the law. Therefore, all punishment given by the courts or other law enforcement agencies will rest solely upon them. The above information is taken from Wikipedia. As a student at Thanet College I hear on a daily basis that Wikipedia is unreliable and shouldn't be used as a source of research. ...read more.

Middle

Other countries with a very low age (10 or less) usually have a period where responsibility is not absolute until mid-to late teens, or where the response to breaking the law is welfare-oriented rather than retributive. For example, the age in Scotland is eight but the consequences are almost all framed within the welfare system. Verdict: Age isn't the issue Frances Crook Director, Howard League for Penal Reform Our age of criminal responsibility is one of the lowest in Europe. Other European countries have set the age at 14, 15, 16 or, in some cases, at 18. If children do something wrong they should be dealt with through the care system not the criminal justice system. Children know if they have done something wrong, but they don't know the difference between various levels of wrongdoing. What all children know is that the world of adults is capricious and that parents don't always respond to things in the same way. The age should be raised to 14 and then 16. Verdict: Yes, to 14 Laurence Lee Solicitor for Jon Venables at his trial I think that Thompson and Venables did know the difference between right and wrong at the age of 10, but they were treated like circus animals at the trial. When the case went to the European court, it ruled that proceedings in future cases of this kind should be more informal. If the age of criminal responsibility at the time of the Bulger killing had been 12, the boys wouldn't have been prosecuted and there would have been outrage. It could be argued that their sentence starts the day they are released. With their new identities they will have to live a lie. Verdict: No Carolyn Hamilton Director, Children's Legal Centre I would say about 14. I think that at that age children are better able to understand the consequences of what they are doing. ...read more.

Conclusion

The results match up. If this question resulted in the majority saying yes to raising the age then I would be looking to question whether the data was accurate or not because the questionnaire wouldn't make much sense to me. Figure 3 Figure 3 shows us that there is round about an equal divide of people who feel that parents of young children who commit offences should be held partly responsible for their actions. It's hard to say whether the majority feel it's a good idea or a bad idea as I only questioned 30 people so I would be hard pushed to make an assumption on either. To perhaps get a more accurate result I would have to question a much larger number of people. Figure 4 Again, what we have here is results that do not show much of a difference. This tells me that the question of whether violent computer games and movies influence young children into committing offences is a much debated one. However, just like with the previous question we can see that one answer has received a slightly higher result. This could be because of the fact I only questioned 30 people so in order to receive a more accurate result, a survey with a lot more people must be carried out. Figure 5 As we can see above, figure 5 clearly shows us that the majority of people feel that the correct age of criminal responsibility should be set at under 12 years of age. This question was perhaps a bit too broad. A better question could have stated a number of age ranges which would have given a better understanding of what each person questioned thought. However, we can see from the graph that the general feeling is that children aged under 12 are fully aware of what a criminal act is and that they should be held responsible for their actions and not be allowed to escape justice just because they are too young. ...read more.

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