SHOULD the age of criminal responsibility be raised? At ten years old, the UK’s threshold at which a child can be held accountable for criminality is the lowest in the EU.

More than a decade ago the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended an “absolute minimum” age of 12 for criminal responsibility, and urged countries to consider an even higher level.

So is ten years old too young? Is a child of that age able to tell right from wrong?

For more than 20 years the UK’s youth justice system has practised a policy of early intervention. Proponents say this helps nip offending in the bud. Critics argue that it criminalises children unnecessarily.

Today we reveal how a two-year-old was linked to sex offences and an eight-year-old questioned on suspected drug offences by West Yorkshire Police.

In the past three years some hundreds of children under the age of ten have been linked to crimes in the Bradford district.

But children at that age do not even have the ability to look after themselves. They can’t even take on a paper round until they are 13.

Of course, these are just the bald figures. We don’t know the circumstances which led to children of such a tender age being linked to crimes.

We agree that children need to know that criminal actions are serious matters and that good parenting can teach a child right from wrong – but this is not a ‘once time only’ process. A child’s understanding and conceptualisation matures over time. Perhaps it is time to look at this issue again.