• January 18, 2015


The Minister for Home Affairs has responded in detail to concern raised by the Celtic League at the current level at which the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) is set.

In his opening paragraph, Juan Watterson MHK, says “you are correct that the MACR stand at age 10 by means of the Children and Young Persons Act 2001”

However he goes on to outline in some considerable detail the steps that are taken via the Youth Justice Team to “ensure that these young people are treated fairly and appropriately when they come into contact with the Criminal Justice System”

He concludes:

“So whilst we have some sympathy with the argument you put forward we hope you are re-assured by this response which lays out how we treat young people who come to the attention of the authorities due to anti-social or illegal activity and how we strive to help them move away from such behaviour without resorting to the Courts”

The Celtic League welcome the detailed nature of the Ministers response whilst being disappointed that he and the Department cannot see the merits of adjusting the MACR to reflect more adequately the age range recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The intervention strategy’s which he outlines certainly seem robust and as his letter reflects will be enhanced by the introduction of the ‘appropriate adult’ system.

Given the positive focus that interventionist policies appear to have it seems unfortunate that the Department (and Government) believe that the back-stop of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is needed – remember we are talking of children who can be as young as ten years of age!

The Island has an opportunity to show that it is ‘ahead of the curve’ in relation to the MACR set in other countries in the British Isles. It also has an opportunity to bring the MACR into line with countries which, paradoxically, we would regard as not having either a sound human rights record or uncorrupted CJS.

In recent years the Isle of Man has taken a leading position in these Islands in reflecting youth maturity. It introduced a lower voting age in a step which was subsequently mirrored (albeit at this stage only for the referendum) in Scotland.

Surely, if the Island can reflect the changing norms of youth maturity it can also reflect in its CJS an accurate age of youth immaturity.

Of course the lowering of the voting age was a populist and in many ways uncontroversial issue. By contrast the decision by the DHA and government to seek to increase the MACR would be less popular politically.

However because issues are not popular politically it does not mean they are not right!

As indicated above the Celtic League welcome the substantial response received from the DHA Minister on this issue.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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