In the UK the age of criminal responsibility is 10 years old (One of the youngest in western Europe.) Below this age a child cannot be considered "criminally responsible." The operation of criminal responsilbilty was changed in 1998 when "Doli Incapax, (incapable of crime", was abolished following the murder of James Bulger in 1993.
Under 17 years an offender is classified as a young offender. The police and courts will attempt to deal with the youth offender without the use of courts, they can be given Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) or Child Safety Orders that punish the offender without courts. Police can also issue reprimands or warnings, however, if a young offender cannot be controlled with these or the offence is particularly serious, the courts will become involved. The Youth Court is a special part of the Magistarates' Court and hears all but the most serious youth offending cases. The judges (usually Lay Magistrates of a mixed gender) that preside over the Youth Court have special training to handle the cases.(This will be a private hearing with parents.)
Any Youth Offender found guilty could receive up to a 24 months custodial sentence or community service. The Youth Court favours community sentences as this can involve reparation to the community. The magistrate can order unpaid work of up to 400 hours under the Community Payback Scheme, or attend a treatment programme for drug and alcohol problems.
If the crime committed is very serious it will it not normally be heard at the Youth Court, as the magistrates do not have the power to give longer sentences. These cases of youth offending will go before the Crown Court. This is for indictable offences such…