McInnes disappointment at glacial pace of youth justice reform

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes has expressed disappointment at the glacial progress of efforts to reform youth justice.

As part of Stage 2 proceedings of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill 2015, Alison McInnes sought to gain parliamentary support for the amendment to raise the age of criminal responsibility from eight to 12.

The amendment was voted 4-5 in favour of the proposal. Ms McInnes, John Finnie and the Labour members voted for, the four SNP members voted against and the Conservative member abstained. The convenor used her casting vote to defeat the amendment.

Commenting, Ms McInnes said:

“I am disappointed that the government felt unable to agree that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 12.
“But the fact that my amendment was only defeated on the casting vote of the convenor shows that we are beginning to move forward on this important issue.

“My amendment would have ensured that children are treated as children. Those who demonstrate troubling behaviour often do so because they are themselves deeply troubled. They need protection and an age-appropriate response focused on addressing their wider circumstances and disadvantages - not a criminal record that could follow them into adulthood.

“The Justice Secretary, in speaking against my amendment did at least acknowledge the need to move on this, but cited lack of consultation as a barrier.

“He has agreed to set up an advisory group to look into it and report back next year. This is glacial progress. And in the meantime young children who offend will be further punished and disadvantaged as they move into adulthood by carrying a criminal record that will hamper their life chances.”

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