Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request show that children under 10 were suspects in 28 sexual offences recorded since the start of 2011
The suspected rape of a girl by a six-year-old boy was one of more than 160 crimes involving children under 10 which were recorded by North Wales Police in the last four years.
Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request show that children under 10 were suspects in 28 sexual offences recorded since the start of 2011. They included 14 rapes of both girls and boys, as well as a range of other sexual offences.
In addition, children under 10 were identified as “offenders” in six sexual offences recorded in the same period. They also included four rapes.
Children under 10 are not considered by the law to have reached an age where they can be held responsible for their crimes, and cannot be charged with any criminal offence.
However, children under 10 can still commit an offence, and the offence will be recorded.
A child described as a “suspect” is one who is believed to have committed an offence although it has not been proven.
A child is described as an “offender” when there is proof that he or she has committed the offence.
The youngest child suspected of the offence of raping a girl under 13 was a six-year-old boy, who is believed to have carried out the rape in 1997. The offence was registered in 2013.
A nine-year-old boy was suspected of raping a girl under 13 last year, while a boy of the same age was suspected of the same offence in 2012.
The earliest rape recorded in the last four years took place in 1971. In that case, a nine-year-old boy was suspected of raping a boy aged 13, 14 or 15. The crime was recorded this year.
The youngest suspect in a sexual offence was a five-year-old boy suspected of assaulting a boy under 13 by touching in 1970. The offence was recorded in 2013.
The oldest offence recorded in the last four years involved a seven-year-old boy suspected of causing or inciting a boy under 13 to engage in sexual activity in 1960. The crime was registered in 2013.
A total of 155 offences in which the suspects were under 10 have been registered since the start of 2011. Children under 10 were identified as offenders in 12 offences.
Children under 10 were suspected in 31 cases of actual bodily harm, and identified as offenders in two cases.
The youngest suspect of ABH was a six-year-old girl, who was believed to have committed the offence in 2012.
A six-year-old boy was found to have committed aggravated vehicle-taking and property damage in 2001.
Two boys, aged eight and nine, were suspected of using racially aggravated language in intentional harassment in 2011.
Police also suspected a nine-year-old boy of arson in 2013.
Des Mannion, head of service at NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said the number of children committing sexual offences was “deeply concerning”.
“Prevention has to be the key, and that means recognising warning signs early and taking swift action,” he said.
“For very young children, we have to question the environment in which they are growing up that has led to them behaving in this way.
“It could be that they have seen sexual activity that they are just too young to understand and are copying what they’ve seen.”
Mr Mannion added that pornography is “warping young people’s views of what is normal or acceptable behaviour”.
He said: “These children are not beyond help. If we act quickly and children receive therapy, we can stop them becoming adult sex offenders.
“Most importantly, their victims need support to overcome what has happened to them. Sexual offences, whether committed by another child or an adult, can have lifelong consequences.”