Number of crimes committed by under-eights in Scotland rises

Close to 200 children under the age of eight committed offences in Scotland in the past year, new figures have shown.

Statistics released to the The Herald  following a Freedom of Information request, show that two of the children who committed offences were just three years old.

Between April 2009 and March 2010, 192 children under eight were caught for offences including vandalism, robbery and breach of the peace.

Figures for 2006/07 show that 132 children under the age of eight committed offences.

The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is currently eight although a new bill is set to increase this to 12.

The new figures come days after the chair of the Criminal Bar Association called for the age of criminal responsibility in England to be raised to avoid children being prosecuted for crimes they are too immature to understand. Paul Mendelle QC said the current age of criminal responsibility should be raised from 10 to 14.

Children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson called for the government to raise the age of criminal responsibility in March after Jon Venables, one of James Bulger’s killers, returned to prison. She said Bulger’s killers, aged 10 at the time of the murder, should not have been tried in an adult court.

The government has said it has no plans to raise the age.