More than 120 crimes including sexual assault committed by children aged under 10 in Derbyshire
More than 120 young children in Derbyshire have been investigated by police for a range of crimes including sexual assault, threats to kill and arson.
A five-year-old has faced allegations of arson, and six-year-old has been accused of the sexual assault of a girl over 13.
The youngest child to to have allegedly committed a crime was a five-year-old accused of shoplifting in 2018.
Official statistics show that in the past two years, 127 offences have been recorded where the prime suspect was under 10.
The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10, meaning children under this age cannot be charged with committing a criminal offence.
Derbyshire Police have a variety of measures in place to prevent young children committing crime.
They say a number of complex factors are often involved when young children commit crimes, including abusive homes, drugs or alcohol, and peer pressure, among others.
A spokeswoman for the force said: “There are provisions in place for all victims of crimes, regardless of whether the offender is under the age of criminal liability or not.
“All victims will be contacted by our victim services team to see if they would like to be referred for additional support.”
But what does happen when a young child commits a crime, if they are too young to be charged?
“When a child commits a crime and the police are informed, officers will complete a Public Protection Notice (PPN) and submit this to the Central Referral Unit who are police department acting as a conduit for information to be passed to social services,” adds the spokeswoman.
“Once this information is passed over, social services will coordinate an action plan for that particular child.”
Officers attend schools to teach youngsters about the risks and realities of crime, alongside dedicated youth engagement workers, and restorative justice processes explain what the consequences of their actions mean to a victim.
The spokeswoman added: “The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner provides support and commission schemes for young people.
“All such work centres around providing children with a ‘teachable moment’ to explain what the consequences of their actions may be to a victim, themselves and the wider community.”