Watchdog calls for kids under 14 to be spared arrest, meaning likes of the Bulger killers would be let off

CHILD criminals should not be arrested until they are at least 14 — up from the current age of ten, Britain’s human rights watchdog says.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission says prosecuting younger kids has “harmful effects on their well-being and development”.

But it would mean letting off the likes of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables — who were ten when they murdered two-year-old James Bulger in 1993.

The EHRC report, Torture In The UK, reveals that 47 ten-year-olds and 229 11-year-olds got a youth caution or court conviction in England and Wales in the year to March 2018.

It goes on: “A large number of children at a vulnerable age are being exposed to a judicial system which may potentially have harmful effects on their well-being and development.

“There is evidence that criminalisation makes these children more likely to re-offend as adults.” An upcoming UN report is also likely to recommend a limit of 14 across the world.


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Currently it is 12 in the Netherlands, 14 in Germany, Spain and Italy, and 16 in Portugal.

Last night the Ministry of Justice said setting the age at ten allowed for early intervention to stop kids’ behaviour worsening.

A spokesman added: “In the last decade, there has been an 86 per cent reduction in under-18s entering the justice system.”

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