A GROUP of just ten Scots children are behind more than 800 offences over two years, new figures show.
Three of the ten individuals each racked up more than 100 charges and an 11-year-old was even charged with sexual assault.
The offenders – who are all boys – have been at the centre of vandalism, theft, assault, housebreaking firearms and drugs crimes in Edinburgh.
Campaigners have called for “tough action” from the courts in order to tackle the problem of youth crime.
But police have admitted that despite working alongside social services the children are “beyond help”.
A Freedom of Information request showed 9,912 crimes were committed in 2011 by individuals under 17-years-old – 27 offences every day.
Seven of the ten most prolific tearaways are aged 15 with two 14-year-olds and another youngster aged 11.
Each individual has more than 50 crimes to their name – the highest individuals aged 15, 15 and 14 clocking up 117, 109 and 100 offences respectively.
Between the ten individuals there are 813 charges.
The most staggering figures show 1,682 counts of assault, 1,201 incidents of vandalism, 532 cases of shoplifting, 203 counts of housebreaking and 193 charges of drug possession.
Other figures show that outwith the ten there were also four charges of murder, 14 of rape, 95 occasions of fire-raising and 13 counts of drunk driving.
The findings can be attributed to a spate of crimes in recent history.
In March last year, 12-year-old schoolgirl Alisha Khan was attacked by a gang of girls in Piershill, where antisocial behaviour involving marauding youngsters saw new CCTV cameras installed.
Takeaway driver Simon San was killed outside his family’s Lochend shop in August 2010 after being attacked by teenagers.
One police officer said: “It’s terrible to say but some of them may be beyond help, even when they are 14 or 15. For many officers, the same names come up time and again from a young age.
“There’s only a certain number of secure accommodation places, and it’s usually the case that you arrest them and they are straight back out on the streets.
“These kids know that the law basically can’t do much until they reach the adult courts. Until that time you’re trying to limit the damage.
Some might turn it around but others are already on their way to a life of crime.
“These are often damaged kids from difficult backgrounds without real support from family or others to help change their ways.
“What we try to do is get involved as soon as they come into the system to intervene early before it gets to that hopeless stage.”
Lewis Macdonald, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “Clearly in these cases of serial offending we have young people who are out of control.
They have neither self-control or parents or guardians in their lives who are able or willing to exert control over them.
“When you have an 11-year-old committing more than 50 offences then something has gone seriously wrong even at that early stage in their life.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “The only good thing about these individuals is time is still on their side.
“We need stern interventions, tough action from the courts and measures that will let these youngsters know that a life of crime is not to be desired.”
Lothian and Borders Police, NHS Lothian, youth offender workers and the city council’s education, children and families, and services for communities staff meet to discuss possible child interventions.
The meetings review the child’s police, social work and education records before deciding on an appropriate action.
Some receive a warning letter home while others are dealt with through diversionary schemes – the more serious are given to the Children’s Reporter.
Youngsters appearing before a Children’s Panel over an offence can be hit with measures including a supervision order to monitor their behaviour, and be placed in secure accommodation or youth detention.
Councillor Paul Godzik, the city’s children and families leader, said:
“Early intervention is the key to preventing youth offending and we are dedicated, along with our partner organisations, to ensuring that young people and their families receive support at the earliest opportunity.
“As a result of these efforts, incidents of youth offending in Edinburgh have dropped substantially and we will continue to work towards further reducing this number.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “Throughout Edinburgh we have dedicated school link officers, who engage closely with pupils, teachers and parents on a daily basis.
“This has proven extremely successful in reducing reports of youth crime, but also provides police with early intervention opportunities if and when we are made aware of children becoming involved in criminal activity.
“Where serious crimes have been committed, the police will refer the case to the Children’s Reporter and the Crown for their disposal, where a custodial sentence may be an option.”