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MSPs hear plans to raise child crime age

LEGISLATION to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to 12 should be enacted as soon as possible to “stop the criminalisation of eight-year-olds,” MSPs heard yesterday.

Malcolm Schaffer, head of practice and policy at the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, argued the criminal justice system is not needed to “control behaviour” of children and this can instead be dealt with through a welfare system.

Giving evidence to Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee, he said his organisation supports a Bill going through Parliament to raise the age from eight to 12.

The current age is one of the lowest in the world, and below the rest of Britain, where the age is 10.

The UN recommends the minimum acceptable age is 14.

“First and foremost, our hope and desire is that this can be implemented as soon as possible so that we stop the criminalisation of eight-year-olds,” Mr Schaffer said.

“We believe that it is worth looking and we can aspire to raising either the age of criminal responsibility or the age of criminal prosecution to either 14 or 16.

“Our only caution is we want to see this work.”

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