Youngsters getting away with crimes

PERPETRATORS of dozens of crimes, including sex attackers and violent offenders, can not be prosecuted because they are children as young as five.Forty offences in the Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh, Stowmarket and Woodbridge areas did not reach court last year because the offender was below nine-years-old, it emerged today.

By Colin Adwent

PERPETRATORS of dozens of crimes, including sex attackers and violent offenders, can not be prosecuted because they are children as young as five.

Forty offences in the Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh, Stowmarket and Woodbridge areas did not reach court last year because the offender was below nine-years-old, it emerged today.

A further offence of criminal damage in Ipswich, committed by a six-year-old, was removed from the catalogue of crimes as the victim did not want the matter pursued.


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Two of the crimes recorded by police, a sex assault in Felixstowe on a girl under 13 and a sex attack in Ipswich on a boy under 13, were carried out by eight-year-olds.

The litany of child crime was collated by Suffolk Constabulary after a Freedom of Information request by The Evening Star.

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The youngest person to commit an offence in Suffolk during 2006 was aged just five. The youngster was responsible for criminal damage caused in the Felixstowe area.

In Ipswich a six-year-old and a nine-year-old committed separate offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Among the other violent offenders who could not be prosecuted were a seven-year-old who committed assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a nine-year-old who was responsible for common assault and battery. Both incidents took place in the Felixstowe area.

In Woodbridge an eight-year-old arsonist could not be brought before the courts due to his age.

In Britain a child can not be charged with any offence until they are aged ten. Below that, the child is deemed to be below the age of criminal responsibility.

Child crime figures for Suffolk in 2006 included 13 offences of criminal damage to property or vehicles, seven burglaries, three common assaults, two sex attacks, four actual bodily harms, an arson, nine thefts and possession of an offensive weapon.

Twelve of the offences took place in and around Felixstowe, a further dozen in the Woodbridge area, ten in Ipswich, four in Hadleigh, and two in Stowmarket.

Detective Sergeant Eamonn Bridger from Ipswich CID, said: "Where the person responsible for a crime is under the age of criminal responsibility police will give words of advice to the person in the presence of a parent or guardian.

“The crime is "cleared up" under Home Office counting rules for recorded crime under the paragraph - it is ascertained that an offence has been committed by a juvenile under the age of criminal responsibility.

“Details of the person responsible are formally recorded in case they are required for future reference."

N Have you been affected by child crime? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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