Time to raise the age of criminal responsibility: ACT Law Society

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RECENT reports of children incarcerated in the prison system have convinced the ACT Law Society to again call for swift action on raising the age of criminal responsibility.

The tricky debate was first raised six months since a collective group of Canberra legal, human rights and service delivery organisations banded together to campaign to lift the age that a child can be arrested by police, put before a court and detained in youth detention from 10 to 14 years.

The revelation of over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children in youth detention from the Productivity Commission this week and criticism of Australia for its slow action on raising the age of criminal responsibility from an United Nations Universal Periodic Review has brought the matter to the Law Society’s attention again.

“We are proud to be part of a group of peak community bodies that have been working together to advocate for raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years to 14,” ACT Law Society president Elizabeth Carroll said.

The call already has the backing of the territory government to take a leading role in changing the law in the ACT legislate assembly.

“We were very pleased to have received notice last week of the first early steps being taken towards a review of the services and systems that will be required in order to support the change in the ACT,” Ms Carroll said.

“We recognise that there is significant work to be done to ensure that systems are in place to support this legislative change, both within and outside the justice system.

“The Society would like to see all local stakeholders, from both the community and government sectors, brought together to collaborate on finding effective solutions and to support completion of the review process in a timely manner.”

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