Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill


About the Bill

A Bill for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years and to make consequential changes to the law on the disclosure of criminal records and on disclosure of information about individuals working or seeking to work with children or certain adults; on the provision of information by the Principal Reporter to persons adversely affected by the behaviour of children; on the taking of certain children to a place of safety by the police; on the search of certain children by the police;  on police interviews with certain children; and on the taking of forensic samples from certain children by the police; and for connected purposes.

Read the Bill and Accompanying documents

Current Status of the Bill

This Scottish Government Bill was introduced by the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, on 13 March 2018. The EHRiC Committee published its Stage 1 report on the Bill on Wednesday 7 November 2018. The Bill completed Stage 2 consideration on 7 February 2019.

Stage 1

 The Equalities and Human Rights Committee was designated the lead Committee for Stage 1 scrutiny.

The Committee launched a call for views on 27 April 2018. The call for evidence is now closed.

The Committee created a toolkit to help gather the views of young people. Their responses are included in the Stage 1 report, and as an annex.

The Committee began taking oral evidence on the Bill in September 2018.

1st oral evidence session, 6 September 2018:

2nd oral evidence session, 20 September 2018:

3rd oral evidence session, 27 September 2018: 

4th oral evidence session, 4 October 2018: 

Fact Finding visits

On 22 October 2018, the Committee undertook fact findings visits to three secure units for children and young people as part of its Stage 1 scrutiny of the Bill. Notes of these visits are available here:

Stage 2

On 29 November 2018 the Committee considered a paper on a consultation by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.


The Committee received a letter from the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights addressed to the Minister for Children and Young People.


Following a decision taken at the meeting on 13 December, the Committee agreed to write to those who submitted or gave evidence at Stage 1 to ask for views on raising the age of criminal responsibility and the age of criminal prosecution to 14 or 16. The Committee took further evidence on 10 and 17 January 2019 ahead of Stage 2.Letter requesting supplementary information (121 kb PDF)

Submissions from:

  • Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS)
  • Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice
  • Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland
  • Children's Hearing Scotland
  • Church of Scotland
  • Community Justice Scotland
  • Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum
  • Prof. Elaine E. Sutherland
  • Includem
  • National Youth Justice Advisory Group
  • North Ayrshire HSCP
  • Orkney Islands Council
  • Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
  • Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
  • Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Together
  • Victim Support Scotland
  • Who Cares? Scotland
  • Dr Claire McDiarmid
  • Children in Scotland
  • Howard League Scotland


The Committee considered the Bill at Stage 2 on 31 January and 7 February 2019.

Correspondence after Stage 2


Download the toolkit for discussing the Bill with young people

Written Submissions

Supplementary Evidence


The Committee published its report on 7 November 2018.

The Committee received a response from the Scottish Government on 9 January 2019.

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