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Age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to rise

Age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to rise

Mark McDonald - Scottish Government

The age with which someone can have a criminal record in Scotland is to rise from eight to 12, the Scottish Government has announced.

Early Years Minister Mark McDonald announced the proposed legislation in a speech to parliament.

The current age of criminal responsibility is two years younger than the rest of the UK and among the lowest in the world. A special advisory group recommended the change and then a consultation was held earlier this year.


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Scottish Government launches consultation on raising age of criminal responsibility from eight to 12


Ninety-five of respondents supported raising the age to 12. The move is also backed by police, prosecutors and youth groups, McDonald told MSPs.

“The case for change is clear and compelling. Having the lowest minimum age of criminal responsibility in Europe does not match with our progressive approach to youth justice and ambitions to give children the best start in life,” he said.

The idea was put to the Scottish government by Liberal Democrat Alison McInnes as an amendment to a criminal justice bill last year, but the SNP voted it down at committee level.

The announcement was welcomed by other parties at Holyrood.

It is hoped the change will be implemented in time for Scotland’s Year of Young People in 2018. 

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