Exploring childhood, criminal responsibility and the evolving capacities of the child: the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales


  • Raymond Arthur Northumbria University Newcastle


Currently in England and Wales the law considers that all children below 10 years of age are exempt from criminal liability for their actions as such children are morally not responsible and lacking blameworthiness. This approach to young people in conflict with the law misrepresents the evidence regarding young people who offend and encourages highly contestable judgements about individuality, identity and welfare. I will argue that children have a right to respect for their evolving capacities and that respecting this right would help to redirect the criminal justice system towards a normative framework better equipped to accommodate the realities of childhood and in which the child’s experience of vulnerability and powerlessness is embedded throughout.