Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019: two sections now in force

Date: 10th December 2019
Category: Age of criminal responsibility


New regulations have brought Sections 3 (no referral of child under 12 to children’s hearing on offence ground) and 27 (provision of information to persons affected by child’s behaviour) of the Act into force.

Section 3 prevents referral of a child to a children’s hearing, on the ground they have committed an offence, where the behaviour is said to have taken place when the child was below the age of 12.

Section 27 provides for victims of a child’s offence or harmful behaviour to request certain information from the Principal Reporter. It does this by inserting new sections into the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011. The new sections detail the type of information that can be provided and the factors the Principal Reporter must consider when deciding whether or not to release the information.

As elaborated in Clan Childlaw’s blog, until Section 1 comes into force, behaviour of 8-11 year olds can still be investigated as a crime, but it will not be possible for the Reporter to refer those children to a Hearing on the ground that they have committed an offence. They cannot receive convictions for behaviour which happened before the age of 12 and cannot receive a criminal record.

Together and other children’s charities continue to call for the age of criminal responsibility to be further increased to a minimum of 14 years old, in line with guidance from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. In April 2019, Scottish Government announced that an Age of Criminal Responsibility Advisory Group would be established to review operation of the 2019 Act and consider potential future ages of criminal responsibility in Scotland. This group met for the first time in August 2019.