Age of criminal responsibility raised to 12

Age of criminal responsibility raised to 12

Maree Todd

Primary school-aged children will no longer be arrested and treated as offenders, following the passing of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill.

The bill will make far-reaching changes to the way that the law treats children under 12 with Scotland leading by increasing the age of criminal responsibility to the highest in the UK.

Evidence shows that early involvement in formal criminal justice systems can be severely detrimental to children and their future behaviour.

Children’s minister Maree Todd said: “This ground-breaking law delivers a bold, progressive, child-centred approach that will make a real difference to children’s lives.

“We can be proud that Scotland is leading the way in the UK. This new law means that no child under 12 will ever again be arrested or charged with an offence in Scotland. But the bill also ensures that serious harmful behaviour will be investigated appropriately and victims will continue to get the support they need.

“Currently young children can be left with criminal records that can follow them into adulthood and affect their chances of getting training or a job. The measures in the Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill will end that.

“I have sought to achieve the right balance with this bill. This legislation forms a key part of our wider approach to children’s rights and youth justice. By getting this right, we will demonstrate that in Scotland we don’t just say things differently, we will show it by doing things differently.”

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