The age of criminal responsibility gets thrown into the political arena

Liberal Democrats have debated whether the age of criminal responsibility in this country should be raised from 10 years to 14 years. Does the vote in favour reflect the public's feelings on the matter?

The age of criminal responsibility, in this country, presently stands at 10 years and there are some who would like us to be more in line with other European countries on this particular matter.  The last serious political debate on the question of criminal responsibility of young persons took place when Parliament debated and approved what became the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Interestingly, for any of you looking for an example of a legal, and some would say a social, issue best left to Parliament as opposed to the courts then look no further than this particular question. The former House of Lords back in the nineties preferred to leave the matter of reform to Parliament.

The judiciary can only go so far - it is their job to resolve disputes and make decisions on particular cases before them. Judges are not elected and face criticisms that they would be acting undemocratically if they strayed too far into the realms of law making.This is charged to Parliament on our behalf.

This is a time when we should be cherishing the fact that we have a multi party system as part of our democracy and admiring the efforts of those striving for democracy. It is noteworthy that one of the by products of such a system is openness and debate which leads to an informed opinion.

At present the proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility of children is before the Liberal Democratic party at their party conference in Sheffield which is attended only by members of the Liberal Democratic party. If the proposal is to gain momentum it will be tested and debated in the public arena by other political parties, professionals and other interested parties as well as members of the public generally before it becomes government policy for reform.

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