Children Act 2001
Principles relating to exercise of criminal jurisdiction over children.
96.—(1) Any court when dealing with children charged with offences shall have regard to—
( a) the principle that children have rights and freedom before the law equal to those enjoyed by adults and, in particular, a right to be heard and to participate in any proceedings of the court that can affect them, and
( b) the principle that criminal proceedings shall not be used solely to provide any assistance or service needed to care for or protect a child.
(2) Because it is desirable wherever possible—
( a) to allow the education, training or employment of children to proceed without interruption,
( b) to preserve and strengthen the relationship between children and their parents and other family members,
( c) to foster the ability of families to develop their own means of dealing with offending by their children, and
( d) to allow children reside in their own homes,
any penalty imposed on a child for an offence should cause as little interference as possible with the child’s legitimate activities and pursuits, should take the form most likely to maintain and promote the development of the child and should take the least restrictive form that is appropriate in the circumstances; in particular, a period of detention should be imposed only as a measure of last resort.
(3) A court may take into consideration as mitigating factors a child’s age and level of maturity in determining the nature of any penalty imposed, unless the penalty is fixed by law.
(4) The penalty imposed on a child for an offence should be no greater than that which would be appropriate in the case of an adult who commits an offence of the same kind and may be less, where so provided for in this Part.
F106 [ (5) When dealing with a child charged with an offence, a court shall have due regard to the child ’ s best interests, the interests of the victim of the offence and the protection of society. ]