Options drawn up to raise age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland (2024)

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Options drawn up to raise age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland (1)

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

17 Jun 2024 4:44 PM

Consideration is being given to raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland.

Under current legislation children aged 10 can be arrested and taken to a youth court if they commit a crime.

The minimum age of criminal responsibility is also 10 in England and Wales but is 12 in Scotland.

Stormont Justice Minister Naomi Long said her officials are preparing an options paper following a public consultation in 2022.

She said any change will require new legislation and consent from the rest of the Executive.

Options drawn up to raise age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland (2)

Speaking during questions for her department in the Assembly on Monday, Ms Long said she has been clear about her commitment to raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland.

“At 10 years of age our current minimum age of criminal responsibility is the lowest in Europe,” she said.

“In raising it, we are not saying that children’s offending behaviour should be ignored but they should not face the full force of the justice system.”

Ms Long said a public consultation carried out in 2022 showed “overwhelming support” for an increase in the age from 10 years, with the majority supporting an increase to 14 years.

“Based on the outcome of the consultation, my officials have developed an options paper, and I intend to share this with my Executive colleagues to seek their views on my proposals,” she said.

“As any increase in the minimum age of criminal responsibility requires legislative change. It will not be possible for me to progress it in the absence of Executive approval”.

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Options drawn up to raise age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland (2024)
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