Call to prosecute in serious cases only

Young offenders aged 10 to 16 in England and Wales should be
treated in a similar way to those in Scotland and face prosecution
only for the gravest crimes, according to a new report from the
Michael Sieff Foundation this week.

In Child Defendants: Is the Law Failing Them? the
children’s welfare charity recommends replacing the charges of
murder and manslaughter for child defendants with one of culpable
homicide. It wants the mandatory life sentence to be scrapped.

Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Eileen Vizard, who
chaired the steering group that produced the report, said that,
with more than 11,500 under-21s in prison and 75 per cent of young
men re-offending within two years of release, evidence suggests the
juvenile justice system does not work.

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