Thousands of children aged between 10 and 12 have been arrested for violent attacks, including allegations of rape, over the last two years, it has been found.
8,511 arrests within the age group were made in England and Wales, nearly a quarter of which were linked to violence, with a further 95 allegations of rape and 214 sex offences.
480 of the arrests were made for robbery, nine for firearms offences and two for manslaughter, figures obtained by the Daily Mirror through freedom of information requests showed.
Half of the investigations into sex offences involving child suspects were discontinued, while a quarter were dealt with outside of court through warnings, reprimands and cautions.
The Metropolitan Police dealt with 37 cases of rape, while Greater Manchester Police dealt with four and Nottingham Police with eight.
The number of arrests is likely to be even higher than the investigation found as West Midlands Police and Gwent Police failed to answer the freedom of information request.
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers told the Daily Mirror: “We recognise young people may become victims or offenders, sometimes both.
“Where they are offenders we seek to ensure a range of intervention options are available.
“The priority is to take the most appropriate action based on circumstances and risk so as not to unnecessarily criminalise young people.”