Policy actions  3 of 3

Raising the age of criminal responsibility

We are committed to protecting and promoting the rights and interests of children and young people. We are also committed to preventing, mitigating and addressing offending behaviour by young people. We are working to raise Scotland’s age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old. This will mean Scotland is leading the way in the UK, ensuring no child under 12 will be treated as a criminal, or accrue a criminal record.

We established an expert advisory group in 2015 to find solutions to the challenges posed by this reform, and build consensus. As a result of the work of this group and after a consultation exercise we introduced legislation to the Scottish Parliament to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12: Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill.

The measures in the Bill will need to work well to protect the interests not only of children and young people, but also victims and communities.

We brought forward an amendment to review the Bill at Stage 3 with a view to considering the future age of criminal responsibility. The Minister for Children and Young People has committed to creating a new expert advisory group to take forward this review. The new group will meet for the first time in summer 2019, after Royal Assent of the Bill. We will provide more information about the group shortly.

See the bill as amended at stage 2 of the legislative process