Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill - Call for Evidence

The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee [EHRiC] is seeking views on the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill.


The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 13 March 2018. The main purpose of the Bill is to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from 8 to 12. As a result of this proposed change, the Bill also includes provisions on:

  • actions that can be taken by the police when dealing with children under the age of 12,
  • what information can be included on an enhanced disclosure or PVG scheme record about actions that occurred before the age of 12,
  • information that can be made available to victims, and
  • the right of children under 12 to have an advocacy worker present during a police interview.

Read a copy of the Bill and accompanying documents.

Key issues

The Committee would particularly welcome responses on the following questions. If you would like to make a response, you do not need to answer all of these questions and can feel free to focus just on those that are relevant to or interest you

  • The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that the age of criminal responsibility is a minimum of 12 years old, which the Bill adheres to. What are your views on the appropriate age of criminal responsibility in Scotland?
  • The Bill makes a number of changes relating to the disclosure of offences and provides that any conduct by a child below the age of 12 (should the ACR be increased) that would previously have been recorded as a conviction will no longer be recorded as such. The Bill does however, allow for disclosure of ‘other relevant information’ held by the police about pre-12 behaviour. The Committee would welcome views on whether the Bill strikes the right balance in terms of addressing offending behaviour by young children under 12 and the disclosure of such information.
  •  The Bill provides that children under 12 who are subject to a police interview will have the right to have an advocacy worker present during the interview. What will the impact be on your organisation or on the children you work with who might access the advocacy service?
  •  Raising the age of criminal responsibility would necessitate a number of changes in relation to information which can be provided to victims. The Bill seeks to balance the best interests of victims (including child victims) and the best interests of the child responsible for any harm caused. Again, the Committee would welcome views on whether an appropriate balance in this area has been achieved.
  • Part 4 of the Bill relates to police powers and provides a package of powers designed to ensure that serious behaviour by any child under the age of 12 can be investigated but that such investigations are carried out in a child-centred way. Those powers include, amongst other things, the taking of forensic samples, removing a child to a place of safety and the power to search children. The Bill restricts the application of most of these powers so that they are only available to the police in the most serious of cases. The Committee would welcome views on the approach taken to police powers in the Bill.
  •  Please tell us about any other comments you feel are relevant to the Bill.

The Committee is particularly interested in hearing from young people and will be engaging with them separately between May and October. Please follow the Committee on Twitter (@SP_EHRiC) or email the Committee at [email protected] for more information.

The Committee intends to take evidence in autumn 2018 and report to Parliament thereafter.

How to engage with us

Please see our policy on how we treat the information you send us

You can send us your views by—

Emailing us at: [email protected]

You can write to us at:
Equalities and Human Rights Committee
Room T3.40, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

You can find us on Twitter: @SP_EHRiC

Before making a submission, please read our privacy notice about submitting your views to a Committee. This tells you about how we process your personal data.

Please use the template provided to format your submission. This includes the mandatory Data Protection Form. Submissions which are missing a Data Protection Form cannot be processed and may not be considered by the Committee. Such submissions will be returned to you.

We welcome written views in English, Gaelic, Scots or any other language. Due to the time required to process and analyse evidence, late submissions will only be accepted with the agreement of the Committee.

Written responses should be sent electronically, in the template format to the following address. Ideally they should be no more than four sides of A4: [email protected]

If you cannot submit electronically you may send in a hard copy written submission. If you are sending in a hard copy submission please print off and include a copy of the Data Protection Form. Please send them to the address above.


You can ring us: 0131 348 5227 or 0131 348 6040

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