We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility


Scotland’s age of criminal responsibility, at 8 years of age, is the lowest in Europe.  There have long been calls for the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to be raised, notwithstanding the increase to the minimum age of prosecution to 12 years in 2011. These calls have come both from the United Nations and from children’s organisations and others closer to home.


  • An Advisory Group was established in November 2015 to consider the policy, legislative and procedural implications of raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 years to 12 and provide proposals for consultation taking account of the implications of change.

  • We carried out a consultation exercise, seeking views on whether the age should be raised, key implications in relation to care and protection, risk, police powers, disclosure and the role of the Children's Hearings System

  • Mark McDonald MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years, announced that a Bill in this session would be introduced to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12


Consultation responses, the Advisory Group’s report and associated documents can be found here.