Soaring numbers of crimes are being committed by children under 10, new data has shown.
Five-year-olds have been investigated for stalking, four-year-olds for theft and children younger than 10 have been accused of child porn offences.
A staggering 34,000 crimes have been carried out over the last decade by those too young to be prosecuted.
New data, released by 25 police forces, shows under 10s are also accused of serious crimes such as rape and drug offences.
As 10 is the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales, the suspects cannot be charged with committing a criminal offence.
The figures warn that child crime is a growing problem in Britain, with 4,729 crimes being committed in 2021 – up from 3,815 in 2020 and 4,447 in 2019.
Solicitor Laurence Lee, who represented 10-year-old Jon Venables in the James Bulger case, believes the reality is probbaly even worse than the numbers suggest.
Mr Lee, based in Liverpool, said: ‘I think these numbers are underestimating it, to be honest. Youth crime is on the up unfortunately.
‘It’s a very sad reflection on society.
‘What’s the answer? Education? I don’t know the answer. Unfortunately parts of society are a cancer and are beyond help.
‘The vast majority of children are good, but unfortunately they are drowned out by the minority.’
The data, obtained via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests shows urban areas see significantly more crime than rural areas.
The figures show serious crimes are being committed.
In Essex, a total of 32 under 10s were suspected of rape in 2021 – and one was even accused of drug trafficking.
Shockingly, Derbyshire Police revealed that a five year old was suspected of stalking in 2021.
In Manchester, 43 suspects under 10 were accused of child porn offences.
When responding to the FOI request, the Met Police said 55 sex offences were committed by children in 2021 – 45 by boys and 10 by girls.
Where saw the most youth crime?
In 2021 Greater Manchester Police dealt with more offences than any other force – 773 – while Dorset Police dealt with the fewest, eight.
Essex Police reported the second most offences in 2021, with 554, followed by Lancashire Constabulary with 496, then the Met Police with 408.
The fewest were in rural Dorset, with Dorset Police reporting just eight. Cheshire Constabulary reported 11 and Bedfordshire Police reported 61.
The most common crime across all forces was violence without injury, while crimes like shoplifting and criminal damage were also frequent offences.
Mr Lee believes every case could be treated differently.
‘You’ll find that a lot of kids under 10, knowing they can’t be prosecuted, are doing the dirty work for drug dealers and other criminals’, he claimed.
‘A lot of people say it [the age of criminal responsibility] should be raised to 12. Well, if it had been raised to 12, the Bulger killers couldn’t have been prosecuted.’
Twenty five police forces out of 45 provided data when asked to under the Freedom of Information act by the Solent News Agency.
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