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Four-year-old questioned by police over rape; 31 CRIMES REPORTED AGAINST YOUNGSTERS UNDER AGE OF TEN IN LAST TWO YEARS.

Byline: JAYNE THOMSON Content Editor jayne.thomson@trinitymirror.com

CHILDREN as young as FOUR have been questioned by police on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and accessing porn.

New figures show that in the last two years there have been 31 serious crimes reported against youngsters under the age of ten.

The offences include three accusations of rape of a child under 13 committed by children aged four, seven and nine.

And nine of the 31 reported crimes were complaints made against girls.

Officers were also called in to investigate a nine-year-old girl who was alleged to have accessed obscene publications.

The shocking figures were released by Staffordshire Police following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

All of those questioned were under ten, which is below the age of criminal responsibility.

This means the courts are powerless to prosecute but the offences are recorded as alleged crimes.

A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "Although the offenders are below the age of criminal responsibility, we take these types of offences very seriously.

"When an offence takes place, we ensure the child is safe and free from risk and harm and refer the incident into the multi-agency safeguarding hub."

Victims' charities say the increase in the number of children being questioned in connection with sex crimes is a result of social media, online porn and violent video games.

Tracey Hardie, who runs Sarac, a charity for victims of sexual abuse, said: "The concern with this, especially with how young some of these alleged perpetrators are, is this could be the start of the change in behaviour that's being caused by being online so young.

"When you are younger, who guides you? Our main care givers instil in us the rights and wrongs of life and that starts in the developmental years - but social media is educating young people just as much.

"When I look around in any cafe or restaurant, almost everyone has their head buried in their phone.

"We haven't seen the results of that, because we haven't seen the kids come out the other side, we don't know what those changes will be. It might be 20 or 30 years before we understand what impact that is having."

"The best thing is to create that open and honest conversation with children, it's not easy around porn, but they can contact charities like us."

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 9, 2017
Words:394
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