The Scottish Government is to introduce legislation to Parliament that will increase the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from eight to 12.
The new legislation follows a recent consultation exercise in which 95% of respondents apparently supported an increase to 12 or above.
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; and
- victims of harm will continue to receive appropriate support and information.
“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,” commented Early Years Minister Maree Todd.
“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,” she added. “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.”
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