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Eight year olds should not be made criminals: Angiolini

26 November 2008

The Lord Advocate has called for an increase in the age at which children can be held criminally responsible.

Elish Angiolini told MSPs on Holyrood's Justice Committee, currently considering the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill, that eight year olds should not have to appear in court. The Lord Advocate said the issue of criminal responsibility was possibly a larger one than should be considered in the context of one bill.

She added that she did not prosecute children where it could be avoided.

Although there are few other countries worldwide that regard children as criminally responsible at the age of eight, the vast majority of cases against children are handled by the children's hearing system, rather than adult courts.

Among other measures the Sexual Offences Bill proposes to criminalise girls aged 13 to 15 who have sex with boys of the same age group. The Children's Commissioner Kathleen Marshall has already raised concerns, fearing that the bill will criminalise young people having sex.


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