There seems to be a new era of criminals, the under 18’s – under age and seemingly under the radar. This is the rise of criminal youth, exempt from punishment, unanswerable to the law and perhaps learning from the best.
You cannot begin to cover such a topic in one article so in particular I am focusing on rural and semi-rural criminal activity. Homes and buildings are being targeted by gangs of lawless thugs, sweeping through sleepy villages, taking what they like (often to order), unafraid of any attempts by the homeowner to protect themselves. Guard dogs, security cameras, padlocks, gates… None of these deter, they are merely a slight hindrance. This is because it doesn’t matter if they are caught; they are only children after all. It has become a way of life for them, they have learned from the mistakes of their parents, learned the system, and they know their rights. What makes us law-abiding citizens if not the fear of punishment?
These children choose not to go to school, for some this is primary school – where we are taught the difference between what is right and what is wrong. They chose instead to abide by the rules they create for themselves or those created by the older people who influence them.
Imagine your car has been stolen and a photograph of it appears on a social networking site with several boys stood around it, posing, showing off their latest ‘acquisition’. What can you do? The answer? – Nothing. You don’t know which one of them took it, they say they bought it. The police say two of those boys were in prison at the time of the burglary. You know where your car is – these boys meet up on a field about 10 minutes away, you can identify who has it – you even have photographs of them in it. The police know the boys well and the boys know the system. Yet you are powerless, they will have their fun in your car and you will get a call a few days later saying the police have found it, it’s been abandoned and burnt out, just a few miles away.
The police are arguably powerless. For example, a big problem in rural areas is the theft of field motorcycles and quad bikes. If the police see a stolen bike being ridden by a person under the age of 18 and that person is not wearing a safety helmet, they cannot chase them or attempt to retrieve the bike just in case the rider falls off the bike and is injured. As the police would then be liable.
You may ask, what about the evidence of them breaking in? Fingerprints, footprints, CCTV etc. Unfortunately, they know what they are doing where leaving no trace is concerned. They have not studied the theoretical law but they have something better on their side – their daily life, law in practice. How better to learn than on-the-job training?
The legal system is designed to hold citizens accountable for the crimes they commit. But what do we do when there is a loophole, or flaw, in the system. How can a person protect themselves and their property? Or should we simply let them take what they like, at least they aren’t hurting us. They are viewed by the system as children and easily capable of reform, but they have been created by generations of similar culture, where would you even begin?