BBC London News Debate

19 May 2007

I was a guest on Thursday night on BBC London News, talking about whether children between the ages of 10-14 should be put in prison. The other guest was Enver Solomon, the Deputy Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. He was arguing that children should be given therapy instead of being punished. I said that if a child between ages 10-16 had murdered someone, violently attacked them, set alight to their house, then they should be punished.

The next day at school, a lot of my pupils came up to me and said they saw me. Most said they agreed with what I said.

Enver Solomon was a nice chap though, and recognised that the media deliberately stirs up these very facile debates, having worked in the BBC for years himself. He didn’t seem to take it badly that I destroyed him’ as my pupils said I did. He sent me a copy of the report he and his colleagues have written, and I found much in it which I agreed with. In particular, the absurdity of jailing or criminalising children for stealing for minor items at school, or for name-calling, which is happening in our courts. The report paints a picture of a criminal justice system in total chaos: clearly, children who have committed minor offences need to be kept out of prison. However, the public do need to be protected from murderers and arsonists even if they are under sixteen years of age.

The report is well worth looking at, as is the work of the Centre. Find it at:

The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies is an independent charity based at King’s College London that informs and educates about all aspects of crime and criminal justice. The Centre provides information, produces research and carries out policy analysis to encourage and facilitate an understanding of the complex nature of issues concerning crime.’

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