Eight-year-old thief too young to charge

Reply Thu 16 Oct, 2008 02:29 pm
Caught on camera: The 'Artful Dodger' aged eight who stole thousands... but is too young to face charges

The child is eight years old and a notorious thief who stole more than £1,800 from shops and businesses in Hull in just two weeks during August and September.

Police know who he is. But because he is under ten, and therefore below the age of criminal responsibility, nothing can be done to punish him for his crimes.

For legal reasons, Humberside Police can't even name him to warn other potential victims.

The youngster has taken a professional approach to his raids, usually 'casing' the locations first. He even has the knowledge to deactivate electronic cash tills.

He seems to have no conscience, stealing £210 from a Red Cross charity shop while accomplices distracted staff.

Explaining the police position, Detective Sergeant John Fuller said: 'Our investigations have led us to the fact that the boy who has committed these offences is under ten years old and therefore under the age of criminal responsibility.

'That is how the law works. We will be contacting all those affected and explaining how we came to this conclusion. We will still pursue accomplices and be seeking to charge them with theft.'

Children under ten cannot be taken to court for an offence because, in law, it is judged that they don't understand the difference between right and wrong.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 16 Oct, 2008 02:37 pm
@Robert Gentel,
The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales, at 10 years, is low by European standards:
- in the Netherlands the age is 12,
- in France it is 13,
- in Germany, Austria and Italy it is 14,
- in Scandinavian countries it is 15,
- in Spain and Portugal it is 16.

'Young offenders' in the UK

(In the UK, the "doli incapax" has been abolished/changed in recent years.)
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