Callie Thornton
Yahoo News
UK & Ireland

7 hours 7 mins ago

Buzz Up! Print Story The Children's Commissioner says the killers of James Bulger should not have been prosecuted for his murder because children under the age of 12 who commit crimes are too young to understand the full consequences of their actions. Maggie Atkinson believes under 12s should not be prosecuted for any crime and called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 12 years old.Dr Atkinson told The Times that a civilised society should recognise that children who commit offences should be treated differently from adult criminals.Her comments come after James' mother Denise Fergus met Justice Secretary Jack Straw this week to discuss the return to custody of her two-year-old son's killer Jon Venables.Dr Atkinson said politicians should put the needs of children first and not allow themselves to be so influenced by the views of victims' relatives. "The 'we are too worried about the parents issue' is something that runs like a thread through a number of cases. My constant song is 'listen to the children and young people'."Calling for a change in the law, she said even the most "hardened" of youngsters who have committed serious crimes were "not beyond being frightened"."The age of criminal responsibility in this country is 10 - that's too low, it should certainly be moved up to 12; in some European countries it is 14," she said.Dr Atkinson said the James Bulger killing was a "dreadful thing", and Venables and Robert Thompson, who were 10 in 1993 when they were charged with the toddler's murder, needed to be in a contained environment like a youth justice facility and given programmes to help them turn their lives around.

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