`

Parenting courses and curfews among techniques used by police for very young offenders

Preventative measures are key to making sure a child avoids a life of crime, according to Detective Chief Superintendent Lisa Atkinson
Preventative measures are key to making sure a child avoids a life of crime, according to Detective Chief Superintendent Lisa Atkinson

Just because a suspect is under 10 it “doesn’t mean that issues are ignored” by the police, a senior detective has said.

Parenting courses, curfews and support for families are just some of the ways the authorities try to help young children steer clear of trouble, Detective Chief Superintendent Lisa Atkinson, Humberside Police’s Head of Crime, said.

She said: “Under 10s can be subject to a local child curfew or child safety order. Those who break the law regularly can sometimes be taken into care, or their parents held responsible.

“It must be noted though that very few crimes are committed by children under 10.”

She said the police worked with social services and others to support vulnerable people, including very young offenders.

She said: “We have early intervention teams who help children and their families so the child doesn’t continue such behaviour and grow up to follow a life of crime. There are ways of dealing with children that have a better long-term impact on them.

“Preventative measures are key to this. This can be anything from working closely with our partners and families to try and resolve what’s causing the problem through to offering parenting courses.”

Detective Superintendent Jon Morgan, of West Yorkshire Police’s Safeguarding Central Governance Unit, added: “While a suspect under the age of 10 is under the age of criminal responsibility and therefore will not be subject to the criminal justice process, alongside partner agencies, we will work with them and their parents to address the causes and motivations of their offending.”

He said the police shared details of children who had committed offences with the relevant local authorities, so they could provide further support as necessary through multi-agency safeguarding hubs.

Offences by children aged nine or under represented just two per cent of crimes by under-18s across Yorkshire last year, figures obtained by The Yorkshire Post show.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said it was “undertaking wholesale reform of the youth justice system”, including developing plans for the first ‘secure school’ for children in custody aged 12 to 17.

She said a second secure school would open in the North of England and would “put education, healthcare and purposeful activity at the heart of rehabilitating young offenders so that they are diverted from a life of crime.”