Age of criminal responsibility to increase from eight to 12 next month
The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland will increase from eight to 12 next month.
Children’s minister Clare Haughey has confirmed the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 will be fully in place from 17 December.
Parts of the legislation, including regulations that mean a child under 12 cannot be considered an ‘offender’, have already been implemented.
Ms Haughey said: “This ground-breaking law aims to protect children from the harmful effects of early criminalisation. It means primary school-aged children will no longer be stigmatised from being labelled as offenders at such a young age, which will improve their life chances and wellbeing.
“Evidence shows that many children and young people who display harmful behaviours are highly vulnerable and have experienced trauma and adversity. They may have been victims of crime in their own lives. Understanding this, and responding with compassion and willingness to work with children will ensure that fewer enter the criminal justice system as they grow up.
“The act has safeguards to ensure that serious harmful behaviour will be investigated appropriately and that victims will continue to get the support they need and to have their voices heard.
“The legislation means Scotland will have the highest age of criminal responsibility in the UK – we are proud to be leading the way in this progressive approach.”