‘Disturbing’ youth crime figures revealed

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A WORRYING crime wave among children has been revealed as it emerged a 15-year-old girl was caught dealing drugs.

The statistics, released by Strathclyde Police, show that in the past two years kids under 16 had been arrested for 847 offences in Inverclyde alone.

The offences include drink-driving, arson, violence, carrying weapons and robbery, and the figures showed that many of the worst crimes were committed by the youngest offenders.

An eight-year-old boy was guilty of assault and a nine-year-old was caught willfully fire raising.

Claude Knights, director of UK children’s charity Kidscape, said: “These statistics are very disturbing.

“It is very worrying to have such a high number of children and young people committing adult crimes.

“It leads us to ask what has triggered these destructive behaviours, especially in the younger age group.

“These young people have lost their way and are creating havoc in their own lives and in their communities.

“We must not allow this to be a lost generation.”

The figures, which cover the period between January 2009 and January 2011, show that 167 of the crimes were committed by girls under the age of 16 and the rest by boys between eight and 15.

The most common offences were breach of the peace with 152 children charged and petty assault with 138 incidents, while police arrested 110 youngsters for shoplifting and a 14-year-old boy for being drunk and incapable.

Twenty under-15s were found with knives and another 27 had other offensive weapons in their possession.

Five 13-year-olds were caught in possession of drugs and the statistics showed minors committed 25 motoring offenses, including a 15-year-old drink-driver.

A 12-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy were recorded to have committed serious assaults, with another five 15-year-olds committing incidents of a similar nature.

But bosses at Strathclyde Police said these figures show a “significant” drop in youth crime.

Superintendent George Nedley said: “While it is always worrying to see young people charged with crimes such as serious assault and robbery, the numbers in general terms are low and actually follow the national trend of significant in youth offending.

“We are working to develop a groundbreaking approach that will see young people who offend dealt with much earlier in the process.

“The Children’s Hearing system in Scotland is unique in that it is a welfare-based approach that endeavours to get to the root cause of a young person’s offending behaviour.”

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