Children as young as seven and eight accused of rape

As many as 17 children were arson suspects

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The Independent Online

Nearly 1,000 children were suspected of committing crimes in Greater Manchester last year, including two children as young as seven and eight who were accused of committing rape.

One seven-year-old boy was suspected of raping a girl under 13, while an eight-year-old was suspected of raping a girl under 16.

Figures released by Greater Manchester Police following a Freedom of Information request by Manchester Evening News also revealed a boy aged six was suspected of possessing cannabis, and a nine-year-old girl was accused of carrying a sharp object in school.

As many as 17 children were arson suspects – three of which were recorded as posing a threat to life - while ten allegedly stole bikes.

A worrying 119 children were accused of hate crimes, 88 of which had a racial or religious aspect to it.

As children under-10 are not deemed criminally responsible in the UK, the suspects could not be prosecuted, and the police argue crimes committed by children are often complex to tackle. 

Detective Superintendent Jon Chadwick told the newspaper that instead, referral procedures are used to minimise a child’s involvement in criminal activity, to help them “understand the difference between right and wrong” and to safeguard the child, where appropriate. 

“A child does not just go out and commit a crime; there are a whole host of influences that can lead to an incident occurring,” he said.

David Spencer, research director of the Centre for Crime Prevention, told Manchester Evening News: “In cases when children of this age are committing such offences, they have often been the victims of criminal behaviour, neglect, or worse in their home lives.”

The findings come after the UK’s biggest police forces reported that transphobic hate crimes soared in 2014.

The Metropolitan Police saw offences against transgender people soar by 44 per cent in 2014 with 95 crimes recorded, up from 66 last year and 59 in 2012.

Greater Manchester, South Wales, Nottinghamshire, Durham, Kent, Norfolk, West Mercia Police, Northumbria and Gloucestershire police forces also saw transphobic hate crimes rise between January and November compared to last year.