LEADING children's rights organisations are calling for a review of the youth justice system in Northern Ireland.
Voluntary organisations met with the Criminal Justice Review Body last week to discuss changes to the law they would like to see brought in.
Paddy Kelly, director of the Belfast-based Children's Law Centre told The Lawyer: “Under the emergency legislation, a child aged as young as 10 can be held for seven days with limited recourse to a lawyer.
“It is an area of law that has been neglected. There is no accountability.”
Kelly would like to see the age of criminality raised to at least 14 and for the limit on the age of a child to be raised from 17 to 18.
Koulla Yiasouma, director of pressure group Include Youth, says: “The criminal justice review provides an ideal opportunity to address the issues of youth crime and anti-social behaviour, and to implement a system which can really begin to make a difference.”
Both organisations, along with Save the Children, have expressed “dismay” that an earlier consultation document almost “totally overlooked” the problems of dealing with children in Northern Ireland's criminal justice system.
See Ireland feature, page 28