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The Age of Criminality March 14, 2010

Posted by bitchwantstea in News, Politics.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Denise Fergus, mother of toddler James Bulger, who was abducted and then killed by Jon Venables and Mark Thompson in 1993, has called for the resignation or sacking of England’s children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson.

Ms Atkinson recently suggested James’s killers should not have been prosecuted because, aged ten, they were too young.  Instead they should have undergone “programmes” to help turn their lives around.

The age of criminal responsibility (meaning, the age in which children can be tried in an adult court) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is currently set at ten years old.  But Ms Atkinson argued most children at that age did not fully understand their actions.

In Europe, the age of responsibility is set between fourteen and sixteen years old for many countries.

Ms Atkinson told the Times newspaper: “What [Venables and Thompson] did was exceptionally unpleasant and the fact that a little boy ended up dead is not something the nation can easily forget, but they shouldn’t have been tried in an adult court because they were still children.”

However, she later issued a statement in which she said she wished to put into context her views on “such terrible atrocities” as James Bulger’s killers and two young brothers who tortured other children in Edlington.

But Mrs Fergus is now demanding that Ms Atkinson either resign or be sacked for being “twisted and insensitive.”

She said: “They committed an adult crime – a cold-blooded murder that was planned and premeditated – and they were tried accordingly.”

Either way, calls for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised were rejected by the Ministry of Justice.

What do you think, BWT readers?  Should Venables and Thompson have been tried in an adult court?  And in the wider scheme of things, can a ten year old truly understand the gravity of their actions?


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