The move, welcomed by charities, brings Scotland in line with the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child
Charities have welcomed a Scottish Government announcement that the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is to be raised from eight to 12.
Early years minister Mark McDonald told MSPs that following a consultation the government intends to bring forward legislation as the case for change was "clear and compelling".
Currently children in Scotland cannot be formally prosecuted in a court until they are 12, but from the age of eight they can be referred to a children’s hearing where judgements are recorded on their criminal record.
Raising the age will help ensure that Scotland is a fair place for children, and shift focus to supporting children instead of criminalising them
The move means Scotland will have a higher age of responsibility than anywhere else in the UK, where the age when a child can stand trial and be convicted of an offence is 10 years old, but brings it in to line with United Nations directives.
The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), which has campaigned extensively to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland said the move was an important step towards fully incorporating the Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law.
SYP acting chair, Amy Lee Fraioli, added: “Many children who find themselves in children’s hearings are also victims themselves, and are often ill equipped to deal with the situations they find themselves in.
“Raising the age will help ensure that Scotland is a fair place for children, and shift focus to supporting children instead of criminalising them.”
Barnardo’s Scotland also welcomed the announcement saying it was another step forward in creating a society which actively promotes and protects the rights of children especially those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.
Its director Martin Crewe said: “From our experience of providing services across Scotland, we are clear that labelling children as young as eight as criminals does not reduce their offending behaviour.
“By increasing the age of criminal responsibility to 12, in line with international best practice, the Scottish Government is sending a very clear message that Scotland is committed to addressing the needs of children who display harmful behaviour.”