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11-Year-Old London Rioter Sentenced to 18-Month Rehab


Rambunctious middle-schoolers take note, your behavior in England will be lawfully adressed. The Guardian reports that an 11-year-boy has been sentenced to an 18-month youth rehabilitation order for stealing a "bin" during London's 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 offense 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."

The arson and "pointed object" charge comes from a July 18 incident when the boy cut open the seat of a public bus with a knife, tried to set the seat's foam innards on fire, and threw a stone through the bus's glass exit door. While being thrown off the bus the boy kicked the hole that he made in the exit door, thus shattering the entire glass.

While passing the sentence the district judge said "You seem to think that nobody can stop the way you behave."

Children's groups have protested the judge's decision. CEO of the UK's leading children's charity Barnardo told the Guardian:

"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."

BBC News reports that the youth rehabilitation order is a generic community sentence for young offenders, which refers the boy to a Youth Offender Panel, where the offender is expected to agree to a "contract" with the panel made up of at least two trained volunteers from the community. During the 18-month youth rehabilitation order his local authority would dictate where he lives for the next six months.

According to the BBC, the Metropolitan Police have made 2,124 arrests following the London riots, with 1,221 people charged. Of those people charged, 263 were juveniles.

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