A government panel on juvenile delinquency met Friday to sum up a report suggesting that police be given more powers to investigate crimes by children under 14 and that the minimum age for sending juveniles to reformatories be lowered from 14.

The panel was established by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in response to a spate of serious crimes by young people, including the abduction and murder of a 4-year-old allegedly by a 12-year-old boy in Nagasaki in July.

Panel members agreed that Yoshitada Konoike, the panel’s head and state minister in charge of disaster management, would finalize the report.

A draft version of the report says police should be able to investigate alleged crimes by children under 14 in a similar way to regular crimes.

Children under 14 cannot be held criminally responsible under the Penal Code, and the law requires that family courts handle such cases. The police are required to report to a child welfare center if they question a minor in connection with such crimes.

The draft report also proposes expanding education and rehabilitation programs in juvenile reformatories.

The panel is made up of bureau chiefs of various ministries and agencies.

Konoike said he will submit the final report to Koizumi on Wednesday. The government is expected to take the report into consideration when compiling a guideline on youth policies.

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