Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A System That Failed Three Children

Like many of you I am sure, I was troubled by the court case featuring two ten year old boys being accused of raping an eight year old girl. Without going into the details of the case I am astonished that it was held at the Old Bailey. Any system which allows that to happen needs to be reformed. I hope the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, will be speaking to the CPS about their role in the case. They seemed to display a real 'jobsworth' attitude, saying that if there was evidence a crime had been committed, they had a duty to act. Well, of course they did, but they also had a duty to use common sense. Could an eight year old girl really be expected to be a reliable witness? Were two ten year old boys biologically capable of doing what was alleged?

The fact of the matter is that the majority of 8-10 year olds will have indulged in some innocent pre-sexual horseplay of the 'you show me yours and I'll show you mine variety'. I know I did. And no doubt in some cases it maybe goes a little bit too far. Is that a reason for the participants to end up at the Old Bailey? I think not.

The other troubling aspect of this case was the quote from the eight year old girl, who told her mother: "They did sex with me". Doesn't this demonstrate what politicians across the spectrum have long talked about - that children are becoming 'sexualised' at a far too young age and our society is encouraging this. I'm not harking back to a halcyon golden age which never existed, but I wouldn't have had a clue what sex meant at the age of eight. Nowadays every eight year old is familiar with the word without necessarily understanding it.

Whatever one's view is on the details of this case I hope we can all agree that it is surely wrong for children of this age to be asked to appear at the Old Bailey.

22 comments:

Dungeekin said...

Agreed. Totally.

Even if they knew the words, as one Telegraph writer points out, rape is about power and sexual gratification - two things a 10yo is unlikely to understand, much less be seeking.

This whole thing could've been handled with good parenting and perhaps a stern talking-to by the Duty Inspector. Instead, it's become a parody of justice.

What's next - convictions for Indecent Assault from a game of kiss-chase?

Surely this whole incident has sexualised (and traumatised) all three children much more than the original 'offence'.

D

Havocman said...

Surely a case such as this needs to be dealt with in a less accusatorial way, perhaps heard by experts in a more formal atmosphere.

Benny said...

Yet we allow teachers to inform children how to have sex at the age of 5. Sex is no longer an 'adult thing'.

Kalvis Jansons said...

Very well put, and I agree completely.

Benny said...

I still can't believe the children had to sign the sex offenders register along with paedophiles and serial rapists.

Scary Biscuits said...

This is a good argument for abolishing CPS (Criminal Protection Service). They persecute men for sleeping with their wives, home owners for defending their property and now children. Yet at the same time they bend over backwards to find excuses for not prosecuting MPs and other genuine criminals. They are hated by the police.

The CPS was introduced because of supposed incompetence of local police forces. They have proved that centralising prosecutions is no guarantee of improved quality. It is time to save money and support the coalition's drive to localism to return prosecutions to local police forces.

jbw said...

Not being privy to the whole case, I still have to wonder what the jury were thinking in convicting the boys.

Although in some ways I shouldn't be surprised, in view of the fact that we have made kids 'untouchable' these days - so maybe the jury was right after all.

John R said...

When this started I wasnt quite sure if I thought the trial was a good idea or not. As it went on I got more and more angry. I cannot believe this was allowed to happen in a UK court.

All the "professionals" (ha ha) involved, starting with the brainless CPS (who should never have decided to prosecute), the various barristers who have torn apart three young lives and finally the weak and feeble judge (who could have aired his doubts BEFORE the trial) should be, at the very least, disciplined for poor professional judgement or lack of competence.

What did they think they were doing?
What were they trying to achieve?
Who is supposed to have benefited?

I hope they are all throughly ashamed of themseleves - but I doubt it.

neil craig said...

I agree Iain about playing doctors & nurses stuff. This should never have gone to court. Once it had been I assume nobody wanted to go on record as saying it was nonsense in this politically correct era. Better to just let all the kids be traumatised - that is what the caring professions are for - that & getting to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds.

So long as 52% of national spending is done by government we will have government employees looking for new ways to interfere with people's lives. From 1850 to 1914 it was about 6%.

Cynic said...

I think this needs an immediate appeal. This is a miscarriage of justice

Where's the DPP when you need him?

Old Holborn said...

Ask Peter Tatchell what he thinks of sexuaulising children

http://www.petertatchell.net/age%20of%20consent/consent%20at%2014.htm

Nick said...

Indeed. The problem is that there has been a steady demonisation of children (started under Thatcher/Major and continued under New Labour) and intermittent "moral panics" leading to a crackdown on "youth offending".

In fact, we need a more welfarist approach like that taken in Scandinavia. We should start by restoring doli incapax (or raising the age of criminal responsibility to a fairer level).

The difficulty is that whilst people support a welfarist approach in this case, would they have supported the same in the Jamie Bulger case?

anne riddle said...

Surely the little girl should have been checked by a Doctor before the matter was taken to Court. The charge of Rape would then have been dropped and the 2 boys spoken to by an Authorised person, This would have saved the children being dragged to Court and the expense of the trial.

JuliaM said...

Dungeekin:"This whole thing could've been handled with good parenting and perhaps a stern talking-to by the Duty Inspector."

Two things it seems we are lacking these days...

JuliaM said...

Nick:"The difficulty is that whilst people support a welfarist approach in this case, would they have supported the same in the Jamie Bulger case?"

Firstly, I'm not sure a 'welfarist approach' is what is being suggested here by most people - in fact, most people appear to be saying that there was no need for the state ro get involved in something so trivial at all.

Secondly, comparing this to the Bulger murder is comparing apples and oranges. No, I rake that back - it's comparing apples and washing machines...

Paul said...

Iain, when studying for my law degree, a group of us would go to crown court to understand the legal process.

I was horrified a the age of some children giving evidence, particularly in cases of alleged sexual abuse. Can a five year old really give reliable evidence?

I have little doubt that there are many innocent people in prison because of the political imperative of getting rape convictions up.

The plight of these two little boys is very distressing. Being labeled as sex offenders for the rest of their lives for doing something that millions of children will have done through out the ages is incredible.

The government has done many good things in the short time it has been in power. I would hope they will revisit this difficult area as a matter of urgency.

Grand_Inquisitor said...

Straight to the court of Appeal for squashing because the verdict was unsafe. Get on your MPs all who read this to press for such a referral.

wild said...

"The problem is that there has been a steady demonisation of children (started under Thatcher/Major and continued under New Labour) and intermittent "moral panics" leading to a crackdown on "youth offending".

Yeah, I blame Thatcher.

Peter said...

If anyone should be in court it is ihe parents. The Judge or Jury should simply decide if they are capiable parents. If they are not he children should be taken into care.

Lady Finchley said...

I don't get why the trial wasn't stopped when the little girl admitted she lied?

Madasafish said...

The CPS obviously have more money than sense as an Old Bailey trial is hardly cheap...

But then we are living in good times and the Government has loadsofmoney.

Sounds like someone needs to have their budget cut.

Sty Anderson said...

Given that the media were unable to print the full details of the attack due to its explicit nature, I don't see how you can so casually write it off as 'doctors and nurses'.

Maybe when your own child comes to you and says that two older boys 'done sex' with her at the same time, front and back (to put it as politely as possible), you will happily tell her 'oh never mind, they were just playing around' instead of calling police.