Minimum age of criminal responsibility to be raised from eight to 12

Minimum age of criminal responsibility to be raised from eight to 12

The age of criminal responsibility is set to rise from eight to 12, under legislation introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

It has been introduced following a consultation in which 95 per cent of respondents supported an increase to 12 or above.

According to the Scottish government, the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill will mean:

  • fewer children entering the criminal justice system as they grow into adulthood
  • the age of criminal responsibility will be brought into line with the current minimum age of prosecution in Scotland
  • any information on harmful or concerning behaviour involving children under the age of 12 will no longer be disclosed automatically but will be subject to independent review on a case by case basis
  • harmful behaviour involving children under 12 will continue to be addressed with bespoke new measures introduced to ensure police can thoroughly investigate the most serious incidents
  • victims of harm will continue to receive appropriate support and information
  • Early years minister Maree Todd said: “All children deserve the best possible start in life and this legislation marks a key milestone in Scotland’s journey to ensure children are respected and valued.

    “We know the actions of children who harm others are often a symptom of trauma in their own lives and that accruing a criminal record actually drives more offending. This legislation will help turn around the lives of troubled, primary school age children - who are often vulnerable themselves – by addressing their deeds in the context of supporting their needs.

    “Importantly, the bill contains measures to provide reassurance to victims and communities that serious incidents will still be responded to appropriately.”

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