The British Labor government’s effort to remake the criminal justice system in its pending Criminal Justice Bill is sparking demands for an ever tougher approach to juvenile crime. On December 17, Tory Member of Parliament Graham Allen one-upped everybody by calling for the drug testing of children as young as 10 by police.
The Labor bill calls for lowering the age of testing from 18 to 14. Only children suspected for other crimes would be arrested. But 14 isn’t nearly young enough, said Allen, who serves on the parliamentary committee that began examining the bill this week.
“The focus has been on the civil liberty aspects of the bill—my concern is the civic freedom of intimidated witnesses, innocent victims, and frightened citizens,” he told the BBC News. “There are young people in my constituency who, by age 14, are ‘old hands’ to drugs and well known to local police. Drug testing of arrested children should begin at 10. After all, 10 is the age for criminal responsibility.”
In addition to lowering the age of drug testing, the bill has also come under attack for its proposals to allow double jeopardy prosecutions and to allow prosecutors to reveal the criminal convictions of defendants at trial—both reversals of longstanding British common law.