Influencing Policy

We seek to advocate, influence and inform law, policy and practice development to bring about positive changes in the lives of young people.

As an organisation we are committed to ensuring that the voice of young people is at the centre of decision making. We aim to:

  • Promote & protect the rights of children and young people
  • Provide opportunities for young people to contribute towards and influence public policy and practice through direct interaction with key decision makers
    in government departments, public bodies, political representatives and wider civic society
  • Actively involve young people in Include Youth’s policy advocacy programme
  • Support young people to develop and deliver their own campaigns on issues which matter to them.

We influence public policy that has an impact on young people’s lives.  All our work is underpinned by the voice of children and young people and evidence-based practice which enables us to produce well-informed and researched publications, including briefing papers, submissions to public consultations, young people’s submissions and manifestos.

Our Policy Coordinator engages directly with key stakeholders to inform, influence, challenge and advocate with and on behalf of young people in need or at risk. These include elected representatives, civil servants, practitioners, communities, media, academics, children’s rights and human rights oversight bodies and colleagues from the voluntary and community sector.

All of Include Youth’s policy work is grounded on international and domestic human rights and children’s rights standards, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Raise the Age

Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

In Northern Ireland the age of criminal responsibility is 10. This is the youngest in Europe.  Include Youth and a wide range of other stakeholders have long been calling for an increase in NI’s minimum age of criminal responsibility. 10 is too young. We need to raise the age. We are not a lone voice.

In November 2021, Include Youth, Children’s Law Centre, NIACRO and VOYPIC launched “Tracing the Review: Developments in Youth Justice in Northern Ireland 2011-2021.”

A year later, and in response to the recent Department of Justice consultation, we are hosting an event which is designed to bring leading experts on children’s issues, youth justice and child and adolescent mental health together to discuss how you can best respond to the consultation on the age of criminal responsibility.

Criminalising children doesn’t work.

10 Reasons Why 10 Is Too Young

At 10 years of age, we have one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the world and the lowest in Europe. Despite repeated calls from the international children’s rights community and a large number of organisations working with children and young people here in Northern Ireland to raise the age, no progress has been made.

On 3rd October 2022 the Department of Justice issued a 12 week public consultation on increasing the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Northern Ireland from 10 years to 14 years.

In compliance with international children’s rights standards NIACRO, VOYPIC, Include Youth and the Children’s Law Centre are calling for the minimum age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 16 years, with no exceptions for serious or grave offences.

This briefing outlines the 10 reasons why we need to raise the age.

Joint Briefing – 10 Reasons Why Ten Is Too Young – Nov 2022

Together, ourselves,  Children’s Law Centre,  NIACRO, VOYPIC have worked in partnership with  The Centre for Children’s Rights (CCR) at Queen’s University Belfast to host a variety of blogs from experts across Norther Ireland. This blog series represents our joint commitment to keeping debate and discussion about raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) on the public and political agenda.