Norfolk police deal with offenders as young as four
Aug 25, 2010
Child offenders as young as four have been dealt with by police in Norfolk using alternatives to court, new figures have revealed.
According to statistics released by Norfolk police under the Freedom of Information Act, more than 500 under-12s are dealt with using restorative justice each year.
The process involves asking offenders to apologise to victims and make amends for their wrong-doing.
Police say it provides an opportunity to divert those who are under 10 years old, the age of criminal responsibility, away from crime at an early age. It also allows the authorities to help them stay on the straight and narrow.
The method has been used with children who have committed crimes ranging from burglary to violence, although theft and vandalism are the most common offences. Young people dealt with in this way do not get a criminal record.
Extreme cases in the county include a four-year-old boy responsible for criminal damage, an eight-year-old burglar and two nine-year-olds who were accused of violence last year.
What do you think? Should police initiated restorative approaches be used with children under the age of criminal responsibility?