Crime on the rise among children too young to be charged

Reporter:

Keri Trigg

Rape, sexual grooming and endangering life were among alleged crimes committed last year by children in our police force area too young to face prosecution.

Children as young as three were found to be behind a staggering 188 crimes between April 2016 and February 2017, according to latest figures available from Dyfed-Powys Police.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals a worrying trend that has seen the number of crimes committed by children rise from 38 to 88, then to 145 and 188 in four years.

Also among the offences by children under 10 – the age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales – in the 2016/17 financial year were 89 assaults, making threats to kill, and exposure/voyeurism.

In the last four years, young children have been found to be responsible for 10 rapes and 27 sexual assaults, all involving other children. A total of 26 incidents of sexual activity with a child were also recorded as well as one of sexual grooming.

It is not known how many of these crimes were committed within Powys, though the county does make up roughly a quarter of the population of the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

Of the 188 cases in the last year, 63 were closed due to the suspect being too young to face criminal proceedings.

A further 49 were discontinued after the victim did not support the investigation or had withdrawn support.

Evidential difficulties meant 22 cases were closed with no further action, and 24 were dropped after public interest assessment.

But limited action was taken against 12 youngsters – with two receiving a youth community resolution and 10 being given youth restorative disposals.

The police force has stressed that some of the crimes recorded in a particular year may relate to historical offences.

It is also difficult to directly compare year-on-year figures due to potential changes in how incidents are logged.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “In accordance with requirements, data is supplied to the Home Office which details crimes committed by children under the age of criminal responsibility.

“Dyfed-Powys Police is committed to safeguarding vulnerable people and reducing offending.

“In all cases where a child’s actions amount to criminal conduct, safeguarding and multi-agency intervention opportunities are considered.

“The force also has School Community Police Officers who deliver targeted age appropriate lessons in schools as part of the All Wales School Liaison Core Programme.”

Email:

keri.trigg@nwn.co.uk

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