In the Media

Youngest London rioter ? boy aged 11 ? given youth rehabilitation order

PUBLISHED August 31, 2011

Romford boy looted bin from smashed Debenhams storefront days after being convicted of damaging bus An 11-year-old boy has been given an 18-month youth rehabilitation order for stealing a bin during the recent riots. The boy from Romford in north-east London is the youngest rioter in the capital to be prosecuted, according to Scotland Yard. He committed the offence five days after being given a referral order for arson, criminal damage and carrying a pointed instrument in an unrelated incident. The boy took the bin, worth ?50, from Debenhams in Romford on 8 August. Rioters had smashed the windows of the store, causing ?6,000 of damage, when the boy was seen by a police officer reaching in to take a bin from a display. He was sentenced at Havering magistrates court in Essex on Wednesday after previously admitting burglary. Passing sentence, district judge John Woollard said: "You seem to think that nobody can stop the way you behave." The boy was told that his local authority will dictate where he lives for the next six months. He was already under a referral order, imposed at the same court on 3 August, for an incident on 18 July when he cut the seats of a bus with a Stanley knife and tried to light the exposed foam. When the driver refused to let him off the 174 bus, the boy threw a stone at its exit door then kicked a hole in the shattered glass and jumped out of the moving vehicle. The judge said the boy, who sat in court with his mother, had been involved in "major disorder". He said: "My view is that the offence is a very serious one. If you were a little older you would be ending up in prison, you would be looked after there rather than elsewhere. "You need to understand very clearly that you can't get away with committing offences of this nature." After the sentencing, children's charity Barnardo's criticised courts for punishing children of this age for "minor offences". Chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: "It is both counterproductive and costly to hand out disproportionately punitive sentences for minor offences such as petty theft, particularly to younger children of 10 or 11. "The evidence shows that after a year, half of boys and girls at this age who are sentenced in court will have reoffended and their experience within the criminal justice system increases the likelihood that they will go on to commit further crimes. "We are calling on the government to reconsider treatment of the youngest children in trouble within the criminal justice system. "We would urge them to spend money more wisely on more effective ways to stop youth crime, such as whole family approaches like family intervention projects. "This is not a soft option ? rather it challenges and supports parents and their children to face up to their actions and accept responsibility for them, helping to reduce antisocial behaviour, truancy and school exclusions." UK riots London Youth justice Crime Children © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds