Dozens of Yorkshire children arrested for gun crimes

DOZENS of children - some as young as 13 - were arrested in Yorkshire for suspected gun crimes last year, new figures have revealed.

Dozens of Yorkshire children were arrested on suspicion of gun crime last year.

These include a 13-year-old boy and three 17-year-old boys who were charged by Humberside Police with possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and 15 children charged with firearms offences in West Yorkshire - up from nine in 2014 and 10 in 2013.

Across the country, more than 1,500 child arrests for alleged firearm offences were carried out by police between 2013 and January 2016, with the number soaring by 20 per cent last year, figures released by forces under the Freedom of Information Act showed.

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The youngest child charged was just ten years old. Derbyshire Constabulary said the boy was among six children charged with a firearm offence since 2013.

In Yorkshire, Humberside Police said eight children were arrested for suspected firearm offences in 2015, compared with four in 2014 and nine in 2013.

Seven children were charged with firearm offences during the same period, including a 16-year-old boy for possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence last year and two 16-year-old boys charged with possession of an imitation firearm in a public place in 2014.

North Yorkshire Police said 11 children were arrested for suspected firearm offences between 2013 and January 2016, including three boys who were charged. But the force refused to provide any more details, arguing it would breach data protection laws.

South Yorkshire Police charged two children, both aged 16, with firearm offences in 2015, compared with six in 2014 and four in 2013. The offences were possession of firearms or possession of firearms with intent.

Yorkshire’s largest force, West Yorkshire Police made 45 arrests for suspected firearms offences involving children in 2015, compared with 55 in 2014 and 38 in 2013. There were also three arrests in January 2016. Fifteen children were charged with firearms offences in 2015, compared with nine in 2014 and 10 in 2013.

Ian Cameron Swanston, whose 20-year-old brother Dorrie was shot dead in Hulme, Manchester in 1999, said gangs were using children to carry guns to avoid detection.

Mr Swanston, a trustee of the charity Mothers Against Violence, said: “For some it’s about status. Having a gun is seen as having power and people become fearful of you.”

However, Shane Fenton, founder of Leeds youth charity Speak to the Streets, which provides alternatives to gang activity as a way of life, said the figures should be treated with caution.

“We don’t know how many of these children had imitation or BB guns, not hardened criminals who would shoot someone without a second thought,” he said. “Some of the kids want the bravado of having a pretend gun.

“They are growing up with television and advertising portraying guns as glamorous. These images have an affect on impressionable minds and we should be doing more to tackle them.”