The impact and associated trauma of crime can be devastating and long lasting for a victim, regardless of the age of the offender.
For this reason, any reforms to the age of criminal responsibility must consider how an appropriate justice response can still be provided to victims and, most importantly, that victims’ rights and entitlements including access to victims’ services and financial assistance are not diminished.
The Victims of Crime Commissioner acknowledges evidence, nationally and internationally, supporting an increase in the age of criminal responsibility and that many young offenders are themselves victims of violence, abuse or neglect.
For this reason, any change to the age of criminal responsibility must be accompanied by systemic reforms and commensurate investment in evidence-based interventions that address harmful behaviours, aim to prevent reoffending and address systemic issues of neglect and disadvantage.
Diverting young people from a cycle of re-offending is important for individual victims, and a safer community more broadly, but it should not be at the expense of victims’ rights, including their right to be heard and consulted at key stages, or their entitlement to access victim support services and financial assistance.