Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, a former youth charity worker, has called for the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to be raised to 14. The UN suggests that 12 should be an absolute minimum baseline. On both sides of the border, we fall short of this. In England and Wales, it’s 10 and in Scotland just 8.

The Scottish Government is putting forward legislation to raise it in line with the UN minimum guidelines, but Alex says that it doesn’t go far enough:

Scotland is the only country in the EU where children as young as eight can find themselves with a criminal record, in defiance of UN and Commonwealth guidelines. Some could be required to declare convictions for the rest of their lives. That means a bad decision made when a child is of primary school age can destroy their chances of getting on throughout their working life.

Despite a host of evidence, the Scottish Government has slow walked these proposals. Twice in the last Parliament it voted down Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

Now that we have an opportunity for action, the Government should not be content to do the bare minimum. They should set their sights higher and raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 in line with best practice.

We all want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up. That means treating children as children, not criminals.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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One Comment

  • John Barrett 13th Nov '18 - 10:55am

    Is there any evidence to show that if the age rises to 14, that there will not be an increased problem with people who would use 12 and 13 year olds for criminal activity, knowing that the youngsters could not be held responsible for their actions.

    As a non expert on the matter, 8 does appear to be too young and 14 appears to be too old.

    There will be no correct age for everyone, which makes this a difficult problem for legislators.

    Anyone who has dealt with children knows there are some very grown up, or adult-like children, at the same age as others who are still very childlike.

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