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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Criminal age 'should rise to 18'
Children in playground
The CCJS has called for an urgent rethink
The age of criminal responsibility should be raised from 10 to as high as 18, a report has recommended.

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS), based at King's College London, also suggested children should no longer be sent to prison.

The age at which children can be prosecuted should be raised to 14, 16 or even 18, the authors said.

It added the British age of criminal responsibility was lower than in countries such as France and Germany.

The report, which is a collection of essays from academics and campaigners, claimed there needs to be an urgent review in the approach to "children in trouble".

Abolish Asbos

Rebecca Palmer of the Children and Young People's Unit at the Greater London Authority, said in her essay: "The negative perception of young people as "hoodie-wearing yobs" should be concertedly challenged.

"The age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 18 and Asbos should be abolished."

Bob Reitemeier of the Children's Society suggested 14 years should be the minimum.

Criminology professors Barry Goldson, of Liverpool University, and John Muncie, of the Open University, wrote: "We submit that serious consideration should be given to raising the age of criminal responsibility to 16 or even 18."

'Grave' crimes

The report suggested moving responsibility for youth justice from the Home Office to the Department for Education and Skills.

Grave crimes by children should be punished by a "residential training order" of up to five years, it added.

CCJS deputy director Enver Solomon said: "We are publishing this because we believe the current age of criminal responsibility is too low and there needs to be an urgent rethink.

"All options need to be under consideration, and we want to start a debate about what the new age should be."

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