Sunday, July 30, 2006

It's Not Just Policemen Who Seem To Be Getting Younger

I don't sit in the Youth Court, preferring as I do to deal with the more-or-less grown up malefactors who come before us. Because the Youth Court does not sit every day adult courts are sometimes faced with a young person who has been arrested. Normal practice is to decide on bail and then remand the offender to the next sitting of the Youth Court. There are different rules of bail for those under 18, and for young kids we may only remand to the care of the local authority - who often hand the child straight back to the parents (or, more likely, parent).

One day we were faced with a boy of 12, who looked like one of Fagin's gang from 'Oliver'. He had been arrested trying to break into a car in the small hours of the morning, despite the fact that he was already on bail for other offences, and was subject to a curfew. His mother, a lady of Hogarthian appearance, had gone out drinking with friends at 11 a.m. leaving the boy alone: on her return home at 10.30 p.m. she found that he had, unsurprisingly, gone out. The police returned him home towards dawn.
We had a look at his previous and he had a record going back to the age of 10 for theft, burglary, assault and suchlike. He was under intensive supervision from the Young Offender Team, but dedicated and professional as these are, they cannot overcome such appalling parenting as this boy has received.

Do I have the answer? Of course not, but I do take my hat off to the underpaid and under-appreciated workers who try to put kids like this onto the straight and narrow.

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