Thousands of children under the age of twelve years in Scotland
will not be prosecuted for crimes if a radical plan published by
the Scottish Law Commission is implemented.
The report, The Age of Criminal Responsibility, commissioned by
the Scottish executive, recommends raising the age of criminal
responsibility from eight to twelve years in line with much of
Europe. If the move is implemented it would mean 5,000 crimes
committed in Scotland each year by eight to 11-year-olds would no
longer be taken to court regardless of how serious.
Under current legislation, a child aged eight years or older can
be tried in court for offences such as murder though the majority
of children are dealt with under the children’s hearing
system. The report recommends that all children under 12 years
accused of offences are dealt with by that system.
The proposal is set to raise a fierce debate between child
welfare groups and organisations that believe the law is going soft