The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Riot update: Young children in the dock facing riot-related charges

Now that the riots seem to be over and the rioters and looters are being caught, charged and processed through court, many children as young as 11 years old are facing criminal charges.

In Nottingham, an 11-year-old girl was charged with criminal damage after she smashed windows of shops in the city on Tuesday (9 August) night. The girl had been part of a group of about 15 others.

She told the police that she was encouraged by others to join the rioting, saying "I just went along with everyone else. I knew I could get into serious trouble."

She admitted the offence in court and was given a nine-month referral order. District Judge Morris Cooper said: "That is much longer than usual but it is to reflect the seriousness of what happened."

A referral order is a punishment for children aged between ten and 17 and involves making the defendant agree to a 'contract' with a panel of volunteers from their community (and sometimes the victim too).

If the young offender does not abide by the rules of the contract, they will be sent back to court for re-sentencing.

At Manchester magistrates' court a 12-year-old boy admitted burglary and also received a nine-month referral order after stealing a bottle of wine from Sainsbury's.

Children as young as nine years old were reported to be seen joining in the looting in Manchester. Children under ten cannot be charged with criminal offences, and between the ages of 11 and 17 they will usually be given community sentences. Custodial sentences (prison time) may be given if the crime is severe enough.

However, all the adult rioters convicted are being charged many have not been allowed bail and they are receiving tough sentences.

Related links:
Read more on the story (Daily Mail)
Read 'Can children receive criminal convictions?' (FindLaw)
Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)