Criminal records are being given to nearly 600 school-age children every day, according to new Government figures. Much of the rise in crime in recent years is described as ‘youth on youth’ crime involving robbery and violence but there has also been an alarming rise in the number of young people convicted of sex offences.
The rate at which youngsters – school pupils and youths – are acquiring criminal records, and being placed on the national DNA database after being arrested, has surged in the past two years. Convictions or cautions for 10- to 17-year-olds rose from 184,474 in 2003 to 214,979 in 2005, a rise of nearly 15 per cent and significantly above the 183,000 total in 1997.
A survey of police forces showed that in England and Wales in 2005-06, 40% of all ‘personal property’ muggers were aged 11 to 16. The survey estimated that 122 schoolchildren were mugged every school day. The number of 10- to 17-year-olds found guilty or cautioned for criminal offences leapt by nearly 15% between 2003 and 2005.
Experts have blamed the internet for the disturbing rise in the number of young people convicted of sex offences. There was a 20% increase in sexual offences by those aged 10 to 17 between 2002-03 and 2005-06 – up from 1664 to 1998 crimes.