Twelve children’s charities have joined forces to urge the Scottish Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility from eight years old.
The organisations argue that the age should be lifted to 12, in line with changes agreed to the age at which children can be prosecuted.
In a letter to Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell, organisations including Children 1st and the Children’s Commissioner raised their concerns that children can still receive a criminal record which could affect their future.
Anne Houston, chief executive of Children 1st, said: “It’s the Scottish Government’s ambition to make Scotland the best place for children to grow up: a country where they are protected, their rights are respected and support given where needed. Our organisations view raising the age of criminal responsibility for children as one of the key actions needed to help make this vision reality.
“In Scotland, we are rightly proud of the unique and progressive children’s hearings system which addresses children’s needs and deeds. Yet this approach is let down by legislation which effectively labels children as criminals.
“Scottish Ministers have pledged to consider raising the age of criminal responsibility and to bring forward any legislative change in the lifetime of this Parliament. We would like the Scottish Government to act on this commitment by including an appropriate measure in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill and are keen to discuss how this might be achieved.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We raised the minimum age of prosecution from eight to 12 in the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act 2010. We will consider calls for the minimum age of criminal responsibility to increase.”