Long welcomes survey which shows majority want minimum age of criminal responsibility raised

Alliance Justice spokesperson Naomi Long MLA has welcomed survey results which show the vast majority of respondents want the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) here raised to age 14.

Naomi Long justice
Currently, Northern Ireland has one of the lowest MACR in Europe, with children as young as 10 able to be held criminally liable. However, a consultation launched by Mrs Long when she was Justice Minister sought to increase that to 14, the accepted international standard.
The Department of Justice has now announced the results, with 84 per cent of online responses supporting a raise, 66 per cent of those preferring it to increase to age 14. Meanwhile, 83 per cent of written responses backed a raise, with 50 per cent of those preferring age 14.
“Criminalising children as young as 10 serves nobody’s best interests, with the United Nations stating 14 should be the youngest age a child should be held criminally liable,” said East Belfast MLA Mrs Long.
“That’s why I launched this consultation, with the aim of increasing that age and helping young children avoid being brought into the criminal justice system at an age where the main impact on them will be a negative one. While children should still take responsibility for their actions, placing them into the system at such an early age does not give them the support they need to turn their lives around.
“I am pleased the public has overwhelmingly backed that proposal. This gives a strong basis for a reformed Executive to proceed with making this change, so Northern Ireland can meet best international standards.”