What Can Happen When a Primary School Aged Child Breaks the Law

Children Aged 10 and Older 

Children aged 10 and older can be arrested, interviewed and charged with criminal offences and, if found guilty, they will receive a criminal record.  The UK has the youngest age of criminality in Europe and this has been condemned by the UN Committee on the Rights of The Child ( see UNCRC, 2002, 2008,2016) these criticisms have also been reiterated domestically by the National Association for Youth Justice, and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice.

Children Under 10 Years of Age

Children under 10 years of age cannot be charged with committing a criminal offence. However, they can be made subject to a Local Child Curfew or a  Child Safety Order.  

 

Their parents can also be held responsible for their behaviour and could be asked to attend:

  • a Parenting Programme, 
  • sign a Parenting Contract, or 
  • be made subject to a Parenting Order which is made by the court and run by the Youth Offending Team. 

Local Child Curfew

The police can ban children from being in a public place between 9pm and 6 am, unless accompanied by an adult. This is called a Local Child Curfew and can last for up to 90 days.  If a child breaks the curfew, matters could be taken further and the child could be made the subject of a Child Safety Order.

Child Safety Order

The order is made by the Magistrates upon the application of the Local Authority. The grounds for making such an order are that the child has committed, or is in danger of committing acts that could constitute an offence if the child is over 10 years of age or that the child is likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress. The requirements imposed by the order are a matter for the court and might include that the child attends school, avoids contact with disruptive or older children, does not enter a particular area unsupervised by an adult.  The order normally lasts for up to 3 months, but in some cases it can last for up to 12 months and is intended to control or prevent repetition of the kind of behaviour that led to the making of the order. 

Other Measures 

Children under 10 years of age who regularly break the law, or who are beyond parents control, or who do not abide by the terms of a Child Safety Order can sometimes be taken into the care of the local authority.  

For further information see https://www.gov.uk/child-under-10-breaks-law

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