Independent Review calls for Scotland to raise age of Criminal Responsibility

At eight years old, Scotland has the lowest age that kids can held responsible for crimes in Europe.

A report by Action for Children and Bruce Adamson, who serves as Scotland's Children and Young People's Commissioner has recommended that Scotland reform its longstanding policy that allows children as young as 8 to receive criminal records.

The review also recommends that children aged between 16 and 18 go before youth courts rather than through the adult judicial system, in response to the suicide of William Lindsay. The 16 year old committed suicide 48 hours of being remanded into custody, after appearing in court on a charge of possessing a knife.

Paul Carberry, director of Action for Children in Scotland, said that although the number of children being brought in front of court had fallen in recent years, "young people with the highest and most complex needs seemed to be most vulnerable to being involved in the adult criminal justice system".

He added: "We turned to Richard Holloway and his fellow panellists, Kaliani Lyle and Ruth Wishart, to ask them once again to bring their independent minds to bear on how well Scotland supports children and young people in trouble.

"Once more, the panel have come up with a piece of work that gets to the heart of the matter. Fifty years on from the Social Work Scotland Act, the message is that we haven't got there yet and our systems require an urgent review."

At a recent vote at the Scottish Parliament, there was cross-party support for raising the age to 12, although several MSPs said the legislation should go further and raise it to 16.

In response to the report, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 is the right reform for Scotland at this time, and will mean that we are leading the way in the UK, ensuring no child under 12 will be treated as a criminal or accrue a criminal record

"We know there is more to do to improve outcomes for children and young people who need care and support. And it is right that we keep all parts of that system under review, including children's hearings.

"We will consider this report's findings alongside the wider, independent care review that is under way."

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