A study underpinning raising Scotland’s age of criminal responsibility has won a prestigious award

10 July 2019

A study underpinning our evidence around raising Scotland’s minimum age of criminal responsibility has won a prestigious Celebrating Impact Prize from the Economic and Social Research Council.

The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (ESYTC) won the 2019 prize for outstanding public policy impact.

About the study

The study was key in informing our evidence to the Scottish Parliament around the minimum age of criminal responsibility, where we were clear the age should be set to at least 14.

It was also critical to our work on Kilbrandon Again , an enquiry co-established by the Commissioner into how well Scotland supports children and young people in the care and justice system.

Led by Professor Lesley McAra and Professor Susan McVie at the University of Edinburgh Law School, the study has followed the the lives of 4,300 people over the two decades since they started secondary education in Edinburgh in 1998.

By linking data from the survey, interviews and administrative data, the researchers explored young people's pathways in and out of youth offending.

They tracked individuals' development over their life course, interactions with agencies such as the police and courts, and the impact of the physical and social structure of the neighbourhoods where young people lived.

EYSTC showed that criminalisation of vulnerable children at a young age increases the risks of:

  • repeat offending,
  • ongoing involvement with the youth justice system, and
  • eventual transition into adult criminality.

Learn more

Read a case study of the award-winning research.

Learn why 14 is the minimum acceptable age of criminal responsibility in human rights terms.

Find out about the Kilbrandon Again enquiry.