Cole-Hamilton calls for age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 14

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton will tomorrow call for the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill to raise the age to 14, arguing that 12 would still leave Scotland lagging behind international best practice.

The age of criminal responsibility is set to rise from 8 to 12 under legislation currently progressing through the Scottish Parliament.

The UN has recommended 12 as an “absolute minimum” baseline.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said:

“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.”

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