Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Twelfth Riots: How the law treats minors

As in England, the age of criminal responsibility here is 10 years and over.

But in Northern Ireland, parents who allow their children to be out on the streets causing havoc can escape prosecution as this is not legislated against.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice has said: “There are no legislative powers in existence in Northern Ireland to target the parents of children engaged in criminal activity.”

In the rest of the UK, while parents can be prosecuted for letting their child truant, there have been recent Government proposals to prosecute the parents of children engaged in anti-social behaviour.

A local Social Services spokeswoman said that action taken against the parents of children engaged in risky or dangerous behaviour was up to individual health trusts.

Anti Social Behaviour Orders can also be taken out on children.

In the UK, parenting contracts can be taken out. These are voluntary agreements drawn up between, for example, schools or a local authority’s youth offending team and parents.

Under the provisions of the contracts parents attend parenting courses.

Schools, police and local authorities can issue fines to the parents of a child who is playing truant. And if parents fail to pay the fine, they can be prosecuted.

In England and Wales, if a child under 16 is fined, the parent or guardian of the child is liable to pay the fine.

If a child under 16 is appearing in court, their parent or guardian can be forced to attend the court to take responsibility.

If the parent fails to comply with any court order placed on the child, the parent can be fined up to £1,000.

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