General Article From playground to prison

Topic Selected: Crime and Justice
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  • The minimum age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales was set at ten in the 1963 Children and Young Person’s Act. Previously the 1908 Children Act set it at seven.
  • In the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, Labour abolished the principle of doli incapax whereby the prosecution had to prove that a child under 14 appearing in the criminal court knew and fully understood what he or she was doing was seriously wrong.


There are essentially two ways of looking at the amount of crime committed by children aged ten and 11 in England and Wales:

  • The number of children given a youth justice disposal: custodial sentences, community sentences, pre-court reprimands and final warnings.
  • The number of proven offences that result in a disposal: a more accurate figure as one child can commit more than one offence, it gives the best current picture of the totality of known crime committed by the age group.

The number of ten- and 11-year-olds given youth justice ...

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