Raise the Age? Children's Attitudes Towards the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility
Access Research Knowledge, Number 113, June 2017
4 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 19, 2017
The minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is the age at which a child who commits an offence is considered to have attained the emotional, intellectual and mental maturity to understand their actions, can be formally charged and held responsible in a criminal procedure. Northern Ireland (along with England & Wales) has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in Europe, with children being held responsible for their actions from the age of ten. This is out of line with other age markers, including the age of sexual consent (16), the age at which it is legal to drive a car (17) and the age at which a person is entitled to vote (18). At 10 the MACR in Northern Ireland is below the minimum recommended by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which considers that any limit below the age of 12 is not acceptable. The Committee has recommended an increase in the minimum age of criminal responsibility in each of its Concluding Observations on the UK’s compliance, in 1995, 2002, 2008 and 2016.
Keywords: Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility, Youth Justice
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