Norfolk

Child crimes in Norfolk revealed

More than 200 children under 10 years of age have committed crimes in Norfolk over the last five years, a Freedom of Information Act request has revealed.

The majority of offences are criminal damage, but they also include more serious crimes such as arson and assault causing actual bodily harm.

The figures also include one nine-year-old listed for possessing a firearm or imitation firearm.

The statistics were recorded by police between January 2007 and December 2012.

'Balance of probabilities'

Children under 10 cannot be prosecuted as they are below the age of criminal responsibility.

Norfolk Police said that the offences are recorded as a crime where the officer "believes on the balance of probabilities that a crime may have taken place".

The figures show that seven children committed arson not endangering life, while 11 youngsters, one as young as seven, were committed assault causing actual bodily harm.

It also lists six cases of children - one aged five at West Winch, near King's Lynn - committing racially or religiously aggravated common assault.

The youngest children on the list are aged four. There are three four-year-olds on the list who committed criminal damage.

A police spokesman said: "Children under 10 are not considered to have reached an age where they can be held responsible for their crimes, nor can they be charged with a criminal offence.

"That said, we will engage with parents and other agencies where appropriate to address a child's behaviour issues."

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