Petition Closed
Petitioning Northern Ireland Executive

Raise the age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland from 10 years old to 12, as recommended in the Review of the Youth Justice System in NI.

At just 10 Northern Ireland has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the world.

Currently 10 year olds living here can be arrested, prosecuted, get a criminal record and even be locked up if they break the law. We can no longer ignore the body of evidence that tells us 10 years old is too young.

Children under 16 are regarded too young to leave school, buy a lottery ticket or live unsupported, those under 17 too young to drive a car and under 18 too young to vote, do jury service, place a bet, buy fireworks, cigarettes or alcohol.  Yet a 10 year old is deemed old enough to have the capacity to commit a crime and mature enough to be held criminally responsible for it.

Many ask - what about the small number of children who kill or commit acts of serious violence?  Should they not be held to account for their actions and the community seek assurances that they are protected? If a child is considered to be a risk to themselves or others it would be negligent to suggest that they are not held securely regardless of their age. We do not need such a low age of criminal responsibility to do this.

It is time for an open, honest and evidence-based conversation about how we treat our children. There are better ways to address this behaviour that benefits families, communities, public safety and is just good common sense.

We are seeking a legislative change in Northern Ireland so that 10 and 11 year olds who commit crime are dealt with in a much more effective way.  For more information about this campaign read our briefing.

Join our movement, sign this petition and help us remind government that a child is always a child regardless of behaviour.

Follow us on @RaiseTheAgeNI or email

This petition was delivered to:
  • Northern Ireland Executive

    Include Youth started this petition with a single signature, and now has 317 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.

    This cause needs your help. Every signature counts!