Kent crimes committed by children aged under 10 revealed
More than 600 crimes involving suspects aged under 10 were recorded in Kent over the past five years, a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed.
The majority were for criminal damage but they also include 151 violent crimes and 22 sexual offences.
The figures were recorded by Kent Police between April 2008 and March 2013.
Children under 10 cannot be prosecuted as they are below the age of criminal responsibility.
Kent Police said: "We have a responsibility to record all offences that are reported to us.
"However, where an offence is committed by someone under 10 years of age they cannot receive any formal outcome as they have yet to reach the age of criminal responsibility."
The force said it worked closely with schools and youth support programmes to help address the needs of young people it identified as "being on the cusp of offending".
A spokesman added: "We also have about 2,000 officers trained to level one restorative justice, which allows officers to deal with matters in a way that allows the young person to take responsibility for their actions and to learn about the impact that their actions have on others."
Kate Whaley, from the charity Mothers against Murder and Aggression (Mamaa), said: "We have eight-year-olds that we know are committing crimes but we do very little until they get to 10 and we can actually charge them. I think that's the problem we've got.
"The preventative measures, the changing behaviour measures that we've got in this country, are practically non-existent whether children are above or below the age of criminal responsibility."
She added: "We know there are troubled families, we know this through social services, or reports from schools. These agencies need to act sooner to address the offending behaviour.
"Our youth crime rates suggest there is a lot more that we could be doing."