Scottish commissioner: Raise age of criminal responsibility to 15

By Joe Lepper

| 06 October 2017

The children and young people's commissioner for Scotland is calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from eight to 15.

Scottish children's commissioner Bruce Adamson says Scotland lags behind more than 40 countries on the age of criminal responsibility. Picture: Scottish Parliament

The Scottish government is planning to raise the age to 12 from its current level, which is the lowest in Europe, next year.

This follows a raising of the minimum age for prosecution in Scotland from eight to 12 in March 2011.

But children's commissioner Bruce Adamson says this will still leave Scotland lagging behind more than 40 countries, which have all set the age of criminal responsibility above the age of 12, including Columbia, Brazil and Norway.

"I think most people would be quite shocked to hear that we're the lowest in the world still, and that 12, which the Government is putting forward as a solution, still puts us the lowest in the world," said Adamson in an interview with i.

He added: "I've been spending time in some of the Nordic countries that we like to compare ourselves to, and generally they set theirs at about 15. I think it needs to be somewhere between 12 and 18."

A move to 15 would place Scotland's age of criminal responsibility significantly higher than in England, Wales and Northern Ireland where it is currently set at 10.

Among those to call for a review of the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is Lord McNally, the former chair of the Youth Justice Board and a former justice minister.

In 2012 more than 50 children's organisations and justice experts wrote an open letter to the government calling for the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales to be reviewed, but no action was taken.

Plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 in Scotland were announced by childcare and early years minister Mark McDonald in December 2016. This followed a Scottish government consultation in which 95 per cent supported an increase to 12 or above.

McDonald said the case for raising the age to 12 was "clear and compelling".

The Scottish government has been contacted for further comment.

blog comments powered by Disqus