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Call to erase child crimes

This news post is about 8 years old

​Report says criminal convictions under 18 should be wiped while the age of responsibility should be raised

A call to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to 12, as well as to erase criminal convictions for young people reaching the age of 18, has been backed by one of the country’s leading children’s charities.

The Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCT), a prominent think tank, published a report this week in which a series of recommendations were made to improve Scotland’s criminal justice system in an effort to help the life chances of young people.

The authors say their aim is to find a way to get young people who have offended as children or teens - the vast majority of whom will have committed relatively minor crimes - into work and out of trouble.

We need to remember that children need support to change problem behaviour - Alison Todd

The think tank warned that many young people are carrying childhood "convictions" that stop them getting jobs well in to adulthood.

Tough disclosure regimes introduced over the past decade mean even offences dealt with under the children's panel hearing can hang over a young person during the crucial period when they are trying to set out on a life of work.

The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is just eight although most offences by this age group are dealt with via the children's hearings system.

Moving the age of criminal responsibility to 12 as well as erasing convictions upon the age of 18 would bring Scotland in line with UN Committee of the Rights of the Child, as well the European Convention of Human Rights, says the report.

They authors said: “Removing barriers which limit Scottish employers' willingness to recruit those with a conviction is imperative.”

One of the country’s leading children’s charities backed the call.

Chief executive of Children 1st Alison Todd said while safeguards will always be necessary, the current measures in relation to disclosure seem “far too blunt an instrument, stifling opportunities for many on account of concerns about the behaviour of a critical few."

She added: “It is important to continue to build on the progressive approach in Scotland, where we work together and intervene earlier to protect children and focus on their wellbeing. In the long-term, that should mean that more children enjoy happier, healthier, safer and more secure childhoods.

“We need to remember that children need support to change problem behaviour and address any underlying causes instead of counter-productive measures which effectively label children as criminals.”

Figures reveal children under 16 have committed more than 40,000 offences in Scotland in the past two years.

That includes 25 three and four year-olds recorded for offences such as shoplifting and vandalism.

Police Scotland sais it has to record all crimes and offences under the National Crime Recording Standard.



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