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New figures show 25 youngsters under ten committed offences last year
Children as young as five have committed offences in West Yorkshire.
West Yorkshire Police figures show that 25 children under ten, the minimum age that a criminal can be prosecuted, committed an offence last year – up from 16 in 2009.
Nationally, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that at least 3,000 under-age children committed crimes in 2010.
In West Yorkshire, 14 under-tens committed an offence of criminal damage, six were responsible for theft and handling stolen goods, three committed sexual offences and two youngsters were apprehended for violence against the person.
Most of the children were aged nine or eight. But two, who committed offences of criminal damage and theft and handling, were aged six, and one five-year-old committed an offence of criminal damage.
West Yorkshire Police said that children under ten alleged to have committed a criminal act were deemed unable in law to understand the potential impact of their behaviour and could not be cautioned or charged with that offence.
Any young person under the age of criminal responsibility linked to alleged offending is still interviewed by police staff and, where necessary, individuals and their families are referred to social services and the Youth Offending Service to divert the person from potential further criminality.
The Force said: “West Yorkshire Police understands that every report of criminal behaviour received from a member of the public matters, irrespective of the age of the person who has allegedly committed the offence. We recognise that this contact with a young person is an opportunity to establish their involvement in criminal offending and the reasons behind it.”
Andrew Tempest-Mitchell, chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, representing rank and file officers, said it was alarming there were children as young as five or six committing offences.
Mr Tempest-Mitchell said the number of under-tens involved in West Yorkshire did not provide a big case for lowering the age of criminality.
- Read the full story Wednesday’s T&A