On 7th December 2020, the Royal College of Psychiatrists is holding a highly topical online study day, titled Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR): Time for Change?
Below is some context provided by RCPSYCH:
“The UK has one of the lowest minimum ages of criminal responsibility (MACR) in the world, with the age being set at 10 years old in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 12 in Scotland (having increased from 8 in 2019). These low ages are inconsistent with current neuroscientific knowledge regarding brain maturation and has led to the UK being singled out for criticism by the United Nations, which issued a General Comment in 2019 stating that the minimum age of criminal responsibility should be at least 14 years old.
The topic received further media coverage last week (see links below), following the release of the Justice Committee report on Young People and Youth Justice which called on the Government to review the current minimum age or provide justification for not doing this by February 2021.
The purpose of this conference is to explore the issues behind criminal responsibility including current evidence regarding brain maturation, international approaches to setting minimum ages and alternative non-criminal disposal options for those who commit risky offences below the minimum age of criminal responsibility. It is hoped that participants will come from a wide range of backgrounds so that a full range of views can be heard during the discussions.”