Today, the Liberal Democrat bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility has passed in the House of Lords.
The Bill, introduced by the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords Navnit Dholakia, will amend the age of criminal responsibility in the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 from ten to twelve.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Law Society, the Children’s Commissioners, the Royal Society, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children have all called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised.
Commenting on the passing of his Bill, Navnit Dholakia said:
“I am delighted to see my bill, which will raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12, pass in the House of Lords today. This draconian provision was last amended over 50 years ago and is completely out of touch with modern society.
“The UK’s age of criminal responsibility is the lowest in Europe and the United Nations has repeatedly stated our current age of criminal responsibility is not compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Taking 10 or 11 years-olds out of the adult justice system does not mean failing to act when they offend, it simply means treating them as children when they do. This may be a simple reform, but it will change the shape of our criminal justice system going forward."
Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“Our criminal justice system must have a child-centred approach when dealing with young offenders – we need reform urgently.
“It is vital children are not given life-altering sentences at such a young age as well as being exposed to the detrimental impact of detention. The Liberal Democrats strongly believe in raising the age of criminal responsibility to bring the UK’s justice system in line with modern society and I look forward to supporting this Bill’s passage in the House of Commons.”
The Bill can be found here.
According to the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology, “research shows that 10-year-old children are immature in terms of moral and brain development”, and “criminalising children adversely affects their future prospects and makes them more likely to reoffend as adults”.

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