Children's Commissioner report calls for criminal responsibility age to be lifted from 10 to 14

A new report is calling for a complete overhaul of the child offender system for 10 to 13-year-olds.

The report by the Children's Commissioner says this age group is not getting the kind of support that might prevent reoffending.

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft says the minimum age for criminal responsibility needs to be lifted from ten to 14.
Becroft says the system is failing children.

"Under 14 we can turn children around from a life of crime - it's a great opportunity we have and it would really pay dividends," he told The AM Show on Monday.

"We need the best system possible for under 14-year-olds - we've dropped the ball with 10 to 13-year-olds. Here's our opportunity to make a difference."

The report found the system was failing due to a lack of collaboration between organisations. Becroft said there needs to be a welfare-based approach.

He said most children who commit offences have a background of trauma.

"Up until fourteen if there's been offending, surely it's a family issue. You want the family there too - you want to work with the family.

"Almost all of these children who offend come from the most violent and damaging and volatile and traumatic background."
Becroft said the age being so low just leads to reoffending down the line.

"We talk about at conferences, 'how do we reduce prison numbers? How do we reduce the criminal pipeline?' We're starting at the wrong end.

"The end to start is 10, 11, 12, and 13-year-olds. That's where we can make a difference."