The Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 increases the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to 12 years of age. This means that primary school-aged children will no longer be dealt with as criminal suspects.
We know that harmful behaviour is often a symptom of deeper welfare concerns and trauma in a child's life. Increasing the age of criminal responsibility seeks to bring about a positive cultural shift in how harmful behaviour by young children, and the issues that lead to it, is seen and understood in Scotland.
It is crucial for all of us to act in a way that protects children, cares for their needs and upholds the principles which underpin children's rights. Protecting children from the harmful effects of criminalisation, whilst ensuring that they and their family receive the right support, will improve their life chances and well-being.
The Act sets out a number of measures that enable action to be taken by the police and other statutory agencies when children under 12 are involved in serious incidents. These measures will ensure that the harmful behaviour of children under 12 can continue to be investigated, and that authorities respect and respond to the needs of victims.
This guidance sets out the responsibilities and procedures to be followed by police, in collaboration with local authorities in relation to the power to taking a child under the age of 12 to a place of safety in certain limited situations.
We would like to thank Police Scotland, Social Work Scotland and all partners who have been instrumental in developing this guidance.