Brit kids aged 10 given the legal power to punish teenage thugs

November 14th, 2007 - 2:42 am ICT by admin  
They will deal with tearaways guilty of spraying graffiti, vandalism, anti-social behaviour and under-age drinking. They will have the power to make the hooligans clean up their mess and pay reparations to the victims of their vandalism, reports the Daily Mail.

The ‘peer panel’ experiment, which began with a pilot scheme yesterday, could be rolled out nationwide. Police chiefs believe the scheme, which has been given a Treasury grant of almost 500,000 pounds, will create extra pressure on troublemakers to reform.

Critics, however, are astonished over the move, as they believe that kids at that age would not be able to judge right from wrong. There are also fears that the young ‘jurors’ will be open to intimidation by offenders living in the same area or even going to the same school.

The first children’s court, based on a U.S. idea, opened yesterday in Preston. One of a series of pilot projects to be run in the North-West, it aims to punish 300 young criminals in its first year, rising to 500 a year by 2009.

It will deal with offenders under 17 who admit their guilt and are referred by police or youth offending teams. They will face panels of four children under minimal adult supervision.

Some panel members will be youngsters identified by police as being on the brink of falling into criminal behaviour themselves. Others will selected from schools. The oldest member will be a ‘peer advocate’, aged over 15, who will take the leading role.

There will also be a peer usher, who will escort the offender into the room, a peer administrator to supervise proceedings and a peer mentor who will act in a similar capacity to a lawyer for the offender. (ANI)

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