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Live Reporting

Louise Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. Holyrood Live recap: MSPs back Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill at stage one


    That's all from Holyrood Live on Tuesday 13 November 2018.

    MSPs unanimously backed the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill at stage one.

    The legislation will see that age at which a person is criminally accountable increase from eight - the lowest on Europe - to 12.

    Calls were made throughout the debate for the age to be set higher than that.

    But the Scottish government have insisted 12 is the most appropriate and has the backing of stakeholders.

  2. Plant closure would be 'enormous blow' to economy

    Business Minister Jamie Hepburn
    Image caption: Business Minister Jamie Hepburn

    Business Minister Jamie Hepburn says we want to do everything we can to retain the expertise held by Texas Instruments' employees.

    The loss of jobs at that site would be an enormous blow to the economy, he says.

    The minister confirms discussions are ongoing with a potential buyer for the site.

  3. Background: Hundreds of jobs to go at electronics plant in Greenock

    Texas Instruments

    Hundreds of jobs are set to be lost due to the closure of Texas Instruments (TI), an electronics plant in Greenock, Inverclyde.

    The firm announced a phased closure of the plant in 2016 as it planned to move production to "more cost-effective" sites in Germany, Japan and the US.

    The Scottish government had set up a taskforce to find a new buyer for the plant, but efforts have so far been unsuccessful.

    The facility is scheduled to close in June 2019.

  4. Member's debate: Texas Instruments

    SNP MSP Stuart McMillan
    Image caption: SNP MSP Stuart McMillan represents Greenock and Inverclyde

    SNP MSP Stuart McMillan is leading a debate on the planned closure of the Texas Instruments plant in Greenock.

    He praises the factory's workers, insisting the Texas Instruments' loss will be another company's gain because of them.

    Don't leave any stone unturned in finding a new buyer, the SNP MSP urges the Scottish government and enterprise agencies.

  5. MSPs unanimously back Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill at stage one

    Liam Kerr and Maree Todd

    Tory MSP Liam Kerr says the age of eight was originally chosen because it was considered children under that age did not have the mental capacity to understand right and wrong.

    There is now persuasive guidance that the most appropriate age is 12, he says.

    Children and Young People Minister Maree Todd insists taking all primary school aged children out of the criminal justice system is a significant move.

    On using police cells as a place of safety, she confirms an amendment will be brought forward to implement a presumption against it.


    MSPs have unanimously backed the general principles of the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill.

  6. Decision time will now take place at 4:45pm

    Decision time has been brought forward by 15 minutes.

    A vote on the general principles of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill will take place at 4:45pm.

  7. Background: What do other countries do?


    At present, Scotland's age of criminal responsibility is one of the lowest in the world. Few countries use a lower age, although these include some very populous countries in India, Pakistan and Nigeria, all at 7 - the lowest national age globally.

    In the rest of the UK, it is set at 10 - still lower than any other country in the EU, where 12 is the lowest but some countries like Portugal, Lithuania and Luxembourg have it as high as 16.

    The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child says that 12 should be "the absolute minimum", and that anything lower is not considered "internationally acceptable".

    A number of Asian countries set the age at 14 - including China, Japan, North and South Korea and Vietnam - and some South American countries have opted for 18, including Ecuador, Colombia and Uruguay.

    The United States of America has two layers to its justice system. While only children from the age of 11 up can be charged with a federal offence, there are 33 states where there is no minimum age of criminal responsibility at all.

  8. Background: At what age should children have a criminal record?

    Philip Sim

    BBC Scotland political reporter

    The age of criminal responsibility is the age at which a person is considered old enough to be responsible for their actions and held criminally accountable for them.

    Currently, this age limit in Scotland is eight years old. This is two years younger than the rest of the UK, the lowest figure in Europe and one of the lowest in the world.

    Stop and search of young person

    The cut-off point of eight years of age dates back to the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, which raised the age of criminal responsibility from seven to eight across the UK.

    An updated version of this law in 1963 raised the minimum age for the rest of the UK to 10, but this was not formally replicated in Scotland, where the youth justice system moved in a different direction with the establishment of the children's hearing system after the Kilbrandon Report in 1964.

    However, since 2011 the age of criminal prosecution in Scotland has been 12 years of age, meaning children can only stand trial in a criminal court from that age up.

    This means younger children are sent to children's hearings instead of court - but crucially, the judgements handed out there can still appear on their criminal record.

  9. Post update

    Info pic
  10. Background: Committee backs raising age of criminal responsibility

    Report cover

    The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland should be increased, MSPs have said.

    But efforts should also be made to prohibit the use of police cells for children who are being taken to a ‘place of safety’.

    The proposals, brought forward by the Scottish government, would lift Scotland from having the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Europe.

    The move was backed unanimously by the Equalities and Human Rights Committee.

    MSPs also raised concerns about the disclosure of childhood convictions in adult life which may limit training or job opportunities.

    Read the report here.

  11. Background: Legal bid to increase age of criminal responsibility from eight to 12

    Stop and search

    The bill to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from eight - the lowest in Europe - to 12 was published in March.

    It will mean no child under 12 will receive a criminal record.

    Currently they can go before a children's hearing from the age of eight and have these judgements added to their criminal record.

    MSPs have previously said it was a "national embarrassment" eight-year-olds could be treated as criminals.

    Read more.

  12. Higher age should be considered argues Lib Dem MSP

    Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton
    Image caption: Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton

    Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton says his party will offer its "guarded support" to the general principles of this bill.

    He is critical of the Scottish government for not increasing the age of criminal responsibility further, noting the UN first made issued its international call in 2007.

    If Scotland wants to be a leader in human rights, "I am very confused" as to why 14 or even 16 isn't being considered, he argues.

    Mr Cole-Hamilton commits to tabling amendments on this issue and also to prohibit the use of cells for containing children.

    "This is not a radical bill. This is not even a progressive bill. Instead it is a bill which finally achieves the de minimis standard of international expectation."

  13. Do not ignore context in which young people commit crimes says Labour MSP

    Labour MSP Daniel Johnson
    Image caption: Labour MSP Daniel Johnson

    Labour MSP Daniel Johnson says this bill deals with tragic circumstances, as the young people it affects are often victims of assault or abuse themselves.

    We must not ignore the wider context in which these young people have found themselves, he says.

    Mr Johnson questions the use of police cells as a place of safety for children, suggesting this can have the same effect as being in custody.

    The Labour MSP says this area of law must remain under constant review to ensure the children's justice system works as intended.

  14. 'Raising the age to 12 is a big and significant step'

    Tory MSP Oliver Mundell
    Image caption: Tory MSP Oliver Mundell

    Tory MSP Oliver Mundell says the age of 12 has significance in Scots law already and it is not an "arbitrary" choice.

    He also highlights there will be a degree of discretion for prosecutors when considering cases involving young people.

    "Raising the age to 12 is a big and significant step," he says.

    It is important that we move at pace but there must also be some continuity, and this bill strikes that balance, Mr Mundell adds.

    On victims, he says the proposals in this bill should not be watered down and he seeks reassurances that it will not make it harder for police offices to do their jobs.

  15. Approach must be trauma-informed

    Equalities and Human Rights Committee convener Ruth Maguire
    Image caption: Convener Ruth Maguire is responding on the behalf of the Equalities and Human Rights Committee

    Equalities and Human Rights Committee convener Ruth Maguire says it is imperative that a trauma-informed approach is taken.

    All staff must have access to guidance and other material to make this clear, she insists.

    The committee struggled to reach a shared view on whether the age of 12 was high enough, Ms Maguire explains, but in the interests of children it was agreed to support the bill.

    Regarding disclosure checks, she highlights that the current system could jeopardise opportunities for young people in the future.