What happens if a child under 10 breaks the law?

Children under 10 who break the law are treated differently to adults or youths under 18 who commit a criminal offence. 

Children under 10 cannot be charged with committing a criminal offence. However, they can be given a: 

  • Local Child Curfew 

  • Child Safety Order 

Children under 10 who break the law regularly can sometimes be taken into care, or their parents could be held responsible

Local Child Curfew  

The police can ban children from being in a public place between 9pm and 6am, unless accompanied by an adult. This is called a Local Child Curfew and can last for up to 90 days.  

If a child breaks their curfew, they can be given a Child Safety Order.  

Child Safety Order 

If a child has committed an offence or broken a Local Child Curfew, they can be placed under the supervision of a youth offending team. This is called a Child Safety Order.  

The order normally lasts for up to 3 months, but in some cases it can last for up to 12 months.  

If a child does not stick to the rules of an order, the court can consider if the child should be taken into care.  

For further information on what happens if a child under 10 breaks the law can be found on GOV.UK's website.