Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner has backed a call to change the way children are prosecuted.
The age of criminality in England and Wales is currently set at ten.
But Lord McNally – the chair of the youth Justice Board - has said it could be worth raising the age of criminal responsibility from ten to 12, and considering replacing traditional youth courts with informal panels similar to those in Scotland.
Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird QC said: “The criminal justice system can be intimidating enough for adults, so for a child as young as ten or 11 it could be totally overwhelming.
“A less formal setting would still allow prosecutors to get at the truth, while taking into account the needs of youngsters involved in the legal system.
“Youngsters who have become involved in criminality, for whatever reason, need to learn from their mistakes and receive help to turn their lives around for the future.
“I am not for a moment suggesting youngsters should ‘get away with’ committing crimes, but we need to think about a different way of tackling these offences which is better for the victims, the youngsters involved and society as a whole.”