Riots: 11-year-old boy punished for stealing a bin

  • 31 August 2011

An 11-year-old boy has become the youngest person to be punished for taking part in the London riots.

The boy, from Romford in East London, admitted stealing a bin, worth £50, from a smashed up shop.

The judge told the boy in court that if he was older he would be going to prison.

Instead, for the next 18 months his local council will be keeping a close eye on him.

Almost a thousand people have been taken to court for their role in the London riots. About a quarter were under 18.

Trouble

The 11-year-old boy had been in trouble with the police before, for setting things on fire and causing damage to other people's property.

Court rules mean the boy's name can't be released to the public because of his age.

Lots of people have been surprised by the amount of young people who took part in the rioting.

Rules

In England, the law says that from the age of ten you can be punished for a crime. That's the age where you're thought to be old enough to know you've broken the law. It's called the age of criminal responsibility.

But many people have been arguing over whether these rules are fair to children.

In most cases children usually get a warning or have to do work to make up for their crime. But in serious cases, children can be locked up.

The rules are different depending on where you live. In Switzerland, children as young as seven can be punished by the courts. In Scotland it's 12, France 13, and in Belgium, you can't be guilty of a crime until you're 18 years old.