'Outdated' child crime laws under spotlight

TRYING children who commit capital crimes in an adult court and by a jury is “outdated and wrong”, according to author and journalist Gitta Sereny.

Sereny, whose interest in child crime was sparked by the case of 10-year-old child killer Mary Bell, is speaking at the British Juvenile & Family Court Society's 'Children who Kill' conference next week.

“My main interest is to contribute however I can towards achieving a change in the British judicial system,” said Sereny. She added that the conference may be an important way of achieving this.

The event will bring together practitioners in youth justice and family proceedings from Europe to examine and debate variations in the welfare versus punishment models of juvenile justice.

The conference will focus on Europe's different approaches to dealing with children below the age of 18 who commit serious violent crimes.

Judges, lawyers, psychiatrists and psychologists from Europe are attending, including Roger Sims MP, Allan Levy QC and Gordon Nicholson QC.

The conference will take place at the Royal National Hotel in Euston on 24 and 25 November.