House of Lords Library

Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill [HL]

Published Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The House of Lords Library briefing provides background material on the Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill [HL], which is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 29 January 2016.

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The Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill introduced by Lord Dholakia (Liberal Democrat). The Bill received its first reading in the House of Lords on 2 June 2015 and is scheduled to receive its second reading on 29 January 2016.

The Bill would raise the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales from the current level of ten to twelve.

Lord Dholakia introduced an identical bill in the 2013–14 session, which did not progress beyond second reading. He argued then that as “children of ten and eleven have less ability to think through the consequences of their actions, less ability to empathise with other people’s feelings and less ability to control impulsive behaviour”, it “cannot be right to deal with such young children in a criminal process based on ideas of culpability which assume a capacity for mature, adult-like decision-making”. The Government said at the time that it had no plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility, as it believed children aged ten and above were “able to differentiate between bad behaviour and serious wrongdoing and should therefore be held accountable for their actions”. The Government was of the view that it was “important to ensure that serious offences can, where appropriate, be prosecuted and the public protected”.


Lords In Focus LIF-2016-0007

Author: Nicola Newson

Topic: Criminal law

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