Serious crimes committed by under 10s increase by 28% in North Wales
Police forces in Wales have recorded a rise in serious crimes carried out by children under the age of 10, with incidents including rape and violent assault.
A freedom of information request submitted by the Welsh Conservatives revealed that Welsh children committed 309 crimes in 2015/16 compared to 297 crimes the previous year, marking a four per cent rise.
Three of Wales’ four police forces saw significant upsurges in child crime, though changes in the way crimes are recorded could be a reason for the rise.
North Wales Police saw the biggest percentage increase in crimes committed by children. Ninety-one crimes were recorded for the latest year against 71 crimes for 2014/15 – a rise of 28%.
Among the incidents over a 24-month period were 90 counts of assault, 40 counts of criminal damage, and seven counts of sexual offences, of which three were listed as rape.
Dyfed Powys Police recorded the most crimes with 123 – this compared to 104 crimes recorded the previous year, representing an 18% rise. In a two-year period, crimes included 88 acts of violence against a person, 52 criminal damage offences, and 38 sexual offences.
South Wales Police saw an 100% rise in crimes perpetrated by children, including 26 offences of violence – 18 causing injury – while Gwent police handled fewer incidents than the previous year.
Darren Millar AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary for Children – and a representative of Clwyd West – said:
Some of these crimes are incredibly disturbing and cause a huge amount of damage to communities.
At such a young age, children cannot be charged with committing a criminal offence, so intervention is key.
To avoid child offenders growing up to become adult offenders, robust action outside the youth justice system is needed.
Schools, police, youth offending programmes and charities, such as NSPCC, must work together to ensure that children receive the support and education needed to recognise the severity of their crimes and are enabled to progress through life as well-adjusted citizens.
Angela Burns AM, a Welsh Conservative representing Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, said:
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Changes in the way crimes are recorded could be partly responsible for the rise in crimes perpetrated by children.
Setting these children on a more positive and constructive life course is dependent on a number of factors from their life at home to the support they receive in school.
Communities should be afforded greater powers to deal with antisocial behaviour, which is often rooted in issues that are unique to the locality therefore requiring a unique response. One-size-fits-all solutions simply do not exist.”