We welcome the Scottish Government’s announcement on 1 December 2016 that legislation will be brought forward to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12, following its consultation earlier that year. Harmful behaviours displayed by 8-11 year olds should be treated as child protection concerns rather than criminal matters.

Read Clan Childlaw’s consultation response here. In broad terms we welcome the proposal to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility. Our response details, however, our concerns that police powers and disclosure of information and the consequences they may have for children as they enter adulthood fully respect children’s rights under Article 6 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 40 of the United Nations on Conventions on the Rights of the Child. 

An analysis of the consultation responses and engagement with children and young people can be found on the Scottish Government Consultation website. A Bill to increase the the age from which a child can be held criminally responsible from 8 to 12 years old was included in the Scottish Government's Programme for Government 2017-18


In 2015 we prepared a Note for Alison McInnes MSP on the Age of Criminal Responsibility in Scotland in support of her amendment to Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill  seeking to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12. The amendment was not carried.