Stevens warns of youth crime

The former chief of the Metropolitan Police, John Stevens, has called for a radical review of the law to lower the age of criminal responsibility to crack down on teenage criminals.

Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington called for a new level of law to toughen sanctions against young people from 14 to 18 "where we can make allowances for their youth but can still punish them severely as knowing, active criminals".

He said offenders wearing a "hoodie" or recording an assault on a mobile phone in so-called "happy slap" attacks should have extra legal punishment.

Writing in the News of the World, the Met's former commissioner said: "The thinking that governs juvenile and underage crime legislation was formed decades ago. Well, the world has changed radically and horribly for the worse. Is it realistic to treat drug-dealing, carjacking, drunken, violent 16-year-olds as children any more?

"Are those 12-year-olds with dozens of criminal convictions who swagger out of a court waving two fingers at police too young to know right from wrong?"

He also called for a lowering of the age of criminal responsibility, which is currently set at 10.