Criminologist interviewed by BBC in a debate about criminal responsibility of children

  • Wednesday, April 6, 2016

BBC’s flagship programme ‘Newsnight’ featured a debate about the criminal responsibility of children which hosted Dr Amanda Holt, Reader in Criminology at the University of Roehampton.

In the episode, the recent case of Angela Wrightson, in which two young school girls were convicted of murder, was used as the basis for a discussion about whether such offenders should be sentenced and treated the same as adults by the criminal justice system.

Dr Holt, who specialises in family violence and youth justice, advocated that thirteen year-olds should not be treated in the same way as adult offenders. She stated that each case needed to be considered in relation to the circumstances. This also includes taking into account the background of the individual.

She said: “I don’t think young people should be sentenced the same as an adult, because they don’t have the same emotional, mental, or cognitive maturity at that age. The age of criminal responsibility is incredibly low and at age ten in England and Wales. It is also important to consider that when these type of debates occur that they are within extreme circumstances.”

Dr. Holt is also an expert in adolescent-to-parent abuse and has worked with the UK Home Office to provide a guidance document for professionals on how to recognise and respond to adolescent violence and abuse towards parents. 

Watch the episode of 'Newsnight' which aired on the 6th of April on the BBC iplayer and fast forward to around thirty-four minutes where this segment in the show starts. Please note this clip is available for a limited time.

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