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Tackling the scourge of criminals aged 10
ROBBERY, burglary, and sex and drugs offences are among the thousands of crimes committed by the county’s children in the last three years.
Between April last year and March this year, 1,924 children committed crimes.
In the same period in 2010/11, there were 2,431, and in 2009/10 there were 2,052.
The Thames Valley Police figures also reveal an 11-year-old fraudster, a 12-year-old burglar, a 12-year-old sex offender, a 13-year-old drug criminal, and a 10-year-old busted for a vehicle crime.
A five-year-old was even suspected of a theft and handling offence in Oxford city centre in April 2009. However, the age of criminal responsibility is 10 so any child under that age cannot be held responsible for a crime.
Once a suspect reaches 18 they are charged as an adult.
Acting Chief Insp Andy Cranidge, head of integrated offender management and youth justice, said: “You hear about 10-year-olds committing a drug crime or burglary, but there will be a reason behind why that has happened.
“There is something going on in that person’s life that needs sorting out. “ He said police were working to try to tackle the cause of criminal behaviour in the young rather than being too quick to punish them.
He said: “If you never address that cause then you never address that problem. “There needs to be a balance struck between punitive activity from the police and support from other agencies.”
Mark Bennett, of Witney’s Base 33 youth project, said: “If you can get good quality work in a young person’s life then you might make a lot of difference.
“Each young person is different and you need to identify what is leading them down that path.
“It’s about showing them different avenues so they can get out of it.”
Oxfordshire County Council’s Youth Offending Service (YOS) was set up 12 years ago to cut crime amongst youngsters.
Louise Chapman, cabinet member for children, said: “Since the Youth Offending Service was established the general trend for offending figures has been downward and we will continue to work hard to maintain this. The YOS team has members from the county council, police, health and drug workers which means that all the relevant agencies work very closely.”
She said in 2010/11 94 young criminals met their victims under restorative justice schemes and a further 94 communicated with them indirectly.
In the first half of 2012 the Youth Offending Service has received 135 restorative justice referrals.
- A 14-year-old committed robbery in Kidlington in June last year.
- A 10-year-old was guilty of criminal damage in the Jericho/Osney area in April last year.
- A 10-year-old committed a vehicle crime in the South Hinksey/Kennington/Radley area in June last year.
- A sex crime was committed by a 12-year-old in the Ruscote/Neithrop/Hardwick area in May last year.
- A 13-year-old was guilty of a drug crime in Banbury town centre in August last year.
- An 11-year-old committed fraud in Witney in December last year.
- In October 2010, a 12-year-old burgled a non-dwelling in Banbury town.
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