Children as young as four reported for crimes in South Yorkshire
Hundreds of children as young as four have been reported for crimes including rape, arson, burglary and assault in South Yorkshire, new figures reveal.
Between 2011 and 2015, South Yorkshire Police received 342 reports of offences said to have involved children under 10 years old.
A breakdown of the figures for the last two years reveal that three children aged four were reported for crimes, 11 children aged five, 20 youngsters aged six, 33 aged seven, 62 aged eight and 64 aged nine.
Because the criminal age of responsibility is 10, action could not be taken against any of them.
Seven children were reported for raping girls under 13 in 2014 and 2015 and another two were reported for raping young boys over the same period.
Six children were reported for arson attacks, two for burgling homes, one for attacking a police officer, 23 for shoplifting and two for possessing a knife.
There were also five 'religiously or racially aggravated' offences reported.
Chief Superintendent Rob Odell, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "Since 2014, there has been a change in protocol nationally which has resulted in an increase in the figures of crimes committed by individuals under the legal age of criminal responsibility.
“Processes are now in place to ensure every incident reported is recorded as a crime, regardless of the age of the offender, which is reflected in the figures.
“Whilst some of these incidents are very serious in nature, as those involved are under the age of criminal responsibility, a prosecution cannot be brought against them.
“However, we do invest a great deal of time working with our partner organisations and the parents or guardians of those involved, to put in place support and safeguarding measures and to provide reassurance and assistance wherever possible.”