Nearly a thousand children arrested for gun crimes last year — many just 11 or 12February 24, 2019
Our shocking probe revealed the number of under-18s pulled in by the police for firearms offences has soared almost ten per cent.
Stats revealed by police forces in England and Wales under Freedom of Information laws found that 620 children under 18 were arrested over firearms.
But when estimates are made for the 13 forces that failed to respond to the survey the estimated total is closer to 900 – more than 70 per month.
It is believed that some youngsters are having guns forced on them by older criminals as they are less likely to be subjected to a search.
But there is also a fear that younger and younger children are seeking out guns as a status symbol among gang members.
And our findings also come as the number of violent ‘county lines’ drug gangs in the UK grows.
FORCES WITH THE MOST ARRESTS
The police forces that saw the most under-18s arrested for firearms offences in the last year (2017-18) were London’s Metropolitan Police with 249, West Midlands (81) and West Yorkshire (55).
Next came Greater Manchester (31); Thames Valley (26); Essex (19) and Avon & Somerset (18).
There were 15 under-18s nicked for gun offences in Merseyside, the same number in Kent and also 15 in Bedfordshire.
West Yorkshire police admitted arresting an 11-year-old for having a firearm with intent to commit a crime.
The Hertfordshire force revealed it nabbed a 13-year-old for having a banned automatic weapon and a 15-year-old for having an imitation weapon with intent to cause fear or violence.
And in London, officers arrested one 12-year-old, six 13-year-olds and 26 children who were aged 14 on suspicion of gun crimes in the last year.
Police in Essex revealed they arrested eight children for having imitation guns last year including three 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old.
The survey estimated a total of 880 children were arrested across the 44 forces in the last year compared with 807 in the previous 12 months.
David Spencer, Research Director at the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: “Most law abiding citizens will find it staggering that children as young as 11 are being arrested in possession of firearms.
“It speaks volumes about the extent of the problem with serious and organised crime that is currently gripping towns and cities across the country.
“Each case should be taken on its own merits of course, but when it comes to crimes as serious as this, no-one should be immune from prosecution and custodial sentences, regardless of how old they are.”
And Patsy Mckie, of Mothers Against Violence, said: “Where are children getting these guns from?
“Adults are responsible for training up there their children in the way they should go if they don’t the children will learn from some other source, either good or evil and become selfish.”
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