How surprised I was last evening then to hear on the radio a bureaucrat submitting to the select committee enquiry on Ron Mark's private members' bill, which would lower the age of prosecution for serious crime to 12.
If you do adult crime, then you do adult time -- that's the argument of Mark's bill.
Some children are already criminals [he says] and are getting away with crimes because they know they can... He says an age reduction would help police and courts deal with criminals and offer more protection to potential victims.No way, said the bureaucrat (whose name I didn't get): even if they've committed serious crimes, she argued, you've got to treat children like children...
The irony appeared lost on the radio reporter, but no irony was intended by Children's Commissar Cindy Kiro, also submitting, who said treating children who commit adult crimes as adults would be wrong, instead the system should look at recognising criminal tendencies, early intervention and wishful thinking.
A different bill, a different story -- even on the same day! One day one group of people are arguing that children should have the same protection under law as adults, and the same day the same group of people are arguing that children should not have the same responsibility under law as adults.
Now, why do you think that is?
UPDATE: Further to yesterday's updates on the wording of the Smacking Compromise, Stephen Franks offers his own legal and political opinion:
Bradford wins complete s. 59 victoryRead on here.
Bradford and Clark must be howling with glee and derision. They’ve outlawyered (not to mention out-politicked) opponents of their Bill.
The ‘compromise’ words have no legal effect. They merely “affirm that the Police have a discretion not to prosecute“ - meaning that no new discretion is added, only the existing rules and duties apply.
Worse - to escape prosecution the smack must be “so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution“. Those words can’t have had competent legal consideration from any opposing lawyer.
At the technical level “no public interest” is ludicrous. Of course there will be some public interest in almost every incident. 20% of the population have a passionate interest in forcing the rest to change their child rearing beliefs. That 20% has made it illegal to smack...