Police: no age limit for criminal responsibility

The Danish Police Union is pushing for the criminal age of responsibility to be scrapped following a stabbing fatality involving two 13 year-old boys.

Speaking to broadcaster DR, the organisation’s chairman Peter Ibsen said that criminals are becoming younger every year.

“It’s disgusting to see and hear about 12 and 13 year-olds who get put back out on the streets after committing crimes and then continue to be manipulated by their older handlers. We would rather abolish the age of criminal responsibility totally,” Ibsen said. “We have to respond to developments, and in recent years there has been a tendency to mature at an earlier stage than 20, 30 or 40 years ago.”

The statement comes in the aftermath of a fight between two teenage boys in Jutland last month which ended in one of them being fatally stabbed. Although the criminal age of responsibility was lowered by the Justice Ministry from 15 to 14 last year, the young offender will not be charged as he was just two months shy of his 14th birthday at the time of the attack.

The union is arguing that police, social services and the courts should be given the power to assess crimes on a case-by-case basis rather than setting distinct age limits.

Chairman of the Criminal Prevention Council, Eva Smith, however, disagrees.”As the system now is, the social authorities have the right to take criminal youth and send them to institutions far away,” she told DR. “That can feel like an even harder punishment than you get for a first time offence under the criminal laws,” she said.