The age of criminal responsibility is 16, although children from the age of 12 may be considered criminal offences. Children under the age of 12 are considered incapable of breaking the law and are treated as victims, not perpetrators, if they do something that would be considered a crime for an elderly person. This remained broadly the case until the important legislation of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 introduced an age of criminal responsibility of 8 years. This number was increased to 10 years by the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 and 10 years remains the age of criminal responsibility in England today. An interesting modern case study and discussion on this topic can be found on this blog: EastLaw. The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years. In Scotland there are 8, but there is a law on the table to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to 12. Critics of the low age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales point out that it does not coincide with other notions of child maturity. For example, people do not have the opportunity to sit or vote to be part of a jury until the age of 18. It is only at the age of 16 that it is assumed that people are capable of consenting to sexual relations.
On the other hand, proponents of lowering the age of criminal responsibility advocated “responsibility” for children, i.e. the idea that children should be held accountable for their actions. If an offence takes place in the United Kingdom, the person who committed the offence will be held criminally liable for his acts or omissions. This means that they will be prosecuted and brought before the criminal courts. If convicted, they will receive an appropriate sentence. Longfield described the juvenile courts as “chaotic and dysfunctional” and called for a full review and revealed plans for a project to address the problem of the juvenile justice system next year. This would ensure a legally binding obligation for the UK Government to at least examine whether our abnormally low age of criminal responsibility is sustainable in the light of international standards and expert opinion. We would not be “world leaders,” as the government so often likes to claim, but we would at least be catching up.
Prior to the abolition of the legal doctrine of doli incapax by New Labour in 1998, children enjoyed a higher level of protection. This doctrine states that children under the age of 14 are fundamentally incapable of committing a crime. Exceptions could arise if “prosecutors could prove that a child under the age of 14 knew that his or her actions were seriously reprehensible (as opposed to mere villains).” Children under this age are also exempt from criminal responsibility. Thus, the mechanism for mitigating the very young age of criminal responsibility in the United Kingdom has disappeared without raising the age itself accordingly. The age of criminal responsibility is the youngest age at which you can be arrested or charged if you commit a crime. This age varies according to the countries of the world. This article explains the law on criminal liability in the United Kingdom. We discuss the age at which you become criminally responsible and what happens if children under the age of criminal responsibility commit crimes. We also look at some examples of children who have been held criminally responsible for serious crimes. If your child has been charged with a crime, hire a defense attorney you trust today.
Stuart Gallimore, of the Association of Directors of Children`s Services, which is responsible for children`s services in all boards in England, said she would also support raising the age of criminal responsibility. Another important step towards better support for children in the criminal justice system was taken in 2018, when a court-led project called the Young Witness Initiative resulted in the signing of a protocol between the CPS, the police and Her Majesty`s courts and tribunals to expedite the processing of court cases involving a witness under the age of 10. However, Taylor believes that the case of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who killed two-year-old James Bulger in 1993, has prevented successive governments from changing the age of criminal responsibility. As the Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court were unable to agree on a minimum age of criminal responsibility, they decided to settle the matter procedurally and to exclude the Court`s jurisdiction over persons under the age of eighteen. [ref. needed] There have been (and still are) vehement calls to raise the age of criminal responsibility in the UK to bring it in line with the rest of Europe, citing international standards such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Here are the minimum ages at which people can be charged with a crime in any country: The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is the lowest in Europe, with other EU Member States, for example, having an age of criminal responsibility between 13 and 15: this is an aspect of parens patriae`s public policy. In criminal law, each State will take into account the nature of its own society and the available evidence of the age at which anti-social behaviour begins to manifest itself. Some societies will have leniency towards youth and inexperienced people and will not want them to be exposed to the criminal justice system until all other response options have been exhausted.
As a result, some states have a policy of doli incapax (i.e. incapable of wrongdoing) and exclude liability for all acts and omissions that would otherwise have been criminal after reaching a certain age.  Regardless of what the child may have done, there can be no criminal prosecution. Although no criminal liability arises, other aspects of the law can be applied. For example, in the Nordic countries, a crime committed by a person under the age of 15 is most often considered a symptom of child development problems. This encourages the social authorities to take appropriate administrative measures to ensure the child`s development. These measures can range from counselling to accommodation in a special care station. Since the measures are extrajudicial, they do not depend on the seriousness of the offence committed, but on the general situation of the child. [ref. needed] The age of criminal responsibility is the age at which a child is considered incapable of committing a crime.
In legal terms, it is called the child defence, which is a form of defence known as an apology, so that defendants who fall under the definition of an “infant” are excluded from criminal responsibility for their actions if they had not yet reached the age of criminal responsibility at the relevant time. After reaching the starting age, there may be levels of responsibility determined by the age and nature of the crime committed.  Successive UK governments have resisted calls to raise the age of criminal responsibility. In August 2016, the government`s position was that “children aged 10 and over are largely capable of distinguishing between bad behaviour and serious misconduct and should therefore be held accountable for their actions. When a young person commits a crime, it is important that they understand that it is a serious matter. The public must also have confidence in the juvenile justice system and know that violations will indeed be punished. The criminal justice system treats children and youth differently from adults, and special consideration must be given to the age of the suspect if the child or youth is under the age of 18. The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is only 10 years, the lowest in Europe and well below the level that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child deems appropriate, which is at least 14 years. In 2020, the Judiciary Committee recommended that the Ministry of Justice review the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
Unfortunately, the government seems to have decided once again to renew its “ideological commitment to crack down on juvenile delinquency.” Lucy Frazer, then Parliamentary Secretary of State for Justice, said: “I don`t expect us to change the age of criminal responsibility.” The terminology for such a defence varies by jurisdiction and sphere. “Defense of Children” is a primarily American term.  The “age of criminal responsibility” is used by most European countries, the United Kingdom, Australia and other Commonwealth of Nations countries.  Other examples of use were the terms age of responsibility, age of responsibility, and age of responsibility, There were arguments on both sides as to whether the legal age of criminal responsibility should be lowered or increased.