23 July 2006

Three 'rapists' aged under 10 revealed in police statistics

THREE alleged rapists are among more than 600 Scots children under the age of 10 to have been charged with serious offences in the past year.

Police statistics obtained by The Sunday Times under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that primary school children as young as eight have been accused of crimes including rape, robbery, assault and fraud.

The figures, which have been disclosed for the first time by all eight of Scotland’s police forces, provide an alarming snapshot of the level of violent and sexual crime committed by children under the age of 10.

Almost 3,000 children aged 8-10 were charged between April 2005 and March 2006.

While the vast majority were for relatively minor offences such as vandalism and breach of the peace, the figures expose a hard core of persistent offenders who are responsible for a catalogue of serious crimes.

Among them are three youngsters charged with rape from the Strathclyde, Lothian & Borders and Tayside police force areas. One, a nine-year-old, was accused of raping a three-year-old girl, who used dolls to tell her mother about the alleged attack. If convicted, he would become Scotland’s youngest rapist.

A further 18 children committed lewd and libidinous acts — defined as sexual contact with a person under 16 — and four indecent assaults.

The statistics have outraged politicians and child campaigners. Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said the figures were evidence that the executive’s crusade against youth crime was failing. “This is shocking and to suggest that we should raise the age of criminal responsibility would be to brush the whole thing under the carpet and try and pretend there isn’t a serious problem,” he said.

Stewart Stevenson, deputy justice spokesman for the Scottish National party, said: “These figures paint an alarming picture of future offending if we are unable to respond to this effectively now. I don’t think anyone would expect this level of criminality among primary school children.”

Peter Wilson, a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said that action was needed to deal with “an increasing number of young children who often appear to be out of control”. “Police officers are seeing more instances where ever-younger children are getting themselves involved in more serious acts,” he said.

In Strathclyde, under-10s were responsible for almost 1,200 offences, including 26 serious assaults, a robbery and reckless conduct with a firearm. A further 25 were found in possession of a weapon, including 14 who were armed with knives. Twenty-four were charged with racially aggravated offences.

In Tayside, police officers recorded almost 900 separate charges relating to about 600 children. Most were for disorder, dishonesty and motoring offences.

Officers in Lothian and Borders recorded 400 offences including 57 minor assaults, three housebreakings and two incidents of children carrying knives at school.

In Grampian, about 280 children, around 80 of whom were aged eight, were charged with crimes. The most common offences recorded were vandalism (116), breach of the peace (88) and assault (87).

Detectives in the Highlands recorded about 140 offences by children aged 8-10, including a lewd and libidinous act by a seven-year-old.

The disclosures follow the case of a 12-year-old girl, from Livingston, West Lothian, who is thought to be Britain’s youngest mother. The girl, who has not been named, became pregnant aged 11 after having sex with a 15-year-old on a drunken night out with friends. He has been charged with statutory rape.

Last month it emerged that an eight-year-old, two nine-year-olds and a 10-year-old were receiving treatment for drug addiction. In February this year an 11-year-old girl was treated for heroin addiction in Glasgow after she collapsed at school.


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