Lib Dems launch bid to increase criminal responsibility age
The party said Scotland could 'get ahead of the curve' in protecting young children.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats have launched a bid to increase the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to 16.
Legislation currently going through Holyrood aims to raise this from eight to 12. However, the Lib Dems said that still left Scotland "at the bottom of the pack".
MSP Alex Cole-Hamiton said it is time for Scotland to "get ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting our children" by increasing the age at which they can be held accountable for their behaviour by the courts.
It comes after a new report, commissioned by Action for Children Scotland and Children's Commissioner Bruce Adamson, called for 16 to be fixed as the age for criminal responsibility.
Mr Cole-Hamilton, who worked as a children's campaigner before being elected to Holyrood, said the SNP Government had had to be "dragged kicking and screaming to raise the age of criminal responsibility".
He said: "The fact that they blocked Lib Dem attempts to increase it to 12 twice in the last Parliament means Scotland remains the only country in the EU where a nine-year-old's choices can still have to be declared at 29, destroying their chance of getting on.
"I want to see the age of criminal responsibility raised to 16. This is the level we should be aspiring for.
"The Bill the SNP Government has put before Parliament would still leave Scotland at the bottom of the pack" he added.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The case for changing the age to 12 is clear and compelling.
"It aligns with our age of prosecution and also reflects current presumptions and rights around maturity, representation and participation in the children's hearings system.
"It is this government that will deliver that important change by legislating next year."