Five-year-old boy investigated for rape in Manchester is one of 70 children under 10 to be accused of sex attacks

Children under 10 are too young to be prosecuted

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The Independent Online

Police have investigated a claim a five-year-old boy raped a 14-year-old girl in Manchester, it has been revealed. 

New figures have emerged showing 70 sex attacks were allegedly committed by children under the age of 10 in the past year - including 21 rapes recorded by Greater Manchester Police. 

None of the accused children can be prosecuted as they are under the age of criminal responsibility.

The figures, obtained by the Daily Star Sunday via a Freedom of Information request, show 4,584 crimes were allegedly committed by children in England and Wales including a two-year-old who was accused of grievous bodily harm. 

Data provided by the 32 police forces which responded to the request show children have been investigated for arson, having an article with a blade or point in school, stalking, threats to kill, taking indecent photographs and cannabis possession as well as sexual assault and grievous bodily harm. 

But a spokeswoman from the NSPCC warns that these children are likely to be victim of abuse themselves. 

She said: “It is deeply concerning that so many very young children are said to have committed sexual offences. In these cases we have to question the environment in which they are growing up that has led to them behaving in this way.

“It could be they have seen sexual activity that they are just too young to understand or that they’ve been victims of abuse themselves.

“Prevention has to be the key and that is recognising warning signs early and taking swift action.” 

“The young victims who have suffered these awful assaults need expert support.” 

Children who commit crimes under ten can receive a Child Safety Order which puts them under the supervision of a youth offending team and they can be taken into care if they don’t obey its terms. 

Some can also be given curfews or their parents can be held responsible for their crime. 

Former Children’s Commissioner Maggie Atkinson caused controversy when she called for the criminal age to be raised to “at least 12” in line with many other European countries because offenders are still children.

She told the Times:  “Even the most hardened of youngsters who have committed some very difficult crimes are not beyond being frightened.”