Children under the age of 10 who are too young to be prosecuted were the chief suspects in nearly 3,000 crimes committed in England and Wales last year, official figures showed Sunday.
Of the 2,840 crimes, nearly half -- around 1,300 -- related to criminal damage or arson, the figures from 32 out of England and Wales's 43 police foreces released under freedom of information laws said.
In England and Wales, children aged under 10 cannot be charged with any offence, although the incidents are recorded by police.
A total of 5.5 million crimes by people of all ages were reported to police in the same period, Home Office figures showed.
Lawrence Lee, a lawyer for one of two 10-year-olds convicted of murdering two-year-old James Bulger in a 1993 crime which sent shockwaves across Britain, said that lowering the age of criminal responsibility could be wise.
"As a defence lawyer I would say no, it wouldn't be a good thing," he told BBC online.
"But if I wear my citizen's hat, I would say if you go along to any estate and see the age of kids marauding around like a pack of wolves, you'd see that reducing the age of criminal responsibility to eight or nine would be vital."
But Bob Reitemeier of charity the Children's Society told BBC television that his organisation wanted the age of responsibility raised to 14.
"If you look at how children are treated by government and legislation you have to be 18 to be able to vote, 16 to have sex and yet 10 to be held accountable for committing a crime," he said.
"It's not a very logical system."
Last Mod: 03 Eylül 2007, 00:27