Police catch three and four year-olds over vandalism

CHILDREN as young as three have been caught by police committing crime in the Lothians, it emerged today.

A pair of three-year-olds have been reported for vandal attacks and another four children – aged just four – were detained for vandalism offences. The shocking cases have prompted calls for more money to be invested in combating the root causes of juvenile crime.

Police launched a major drive aimed at tackling youth crime in the city’s worst trouble spots and recently hailed the number of calls about young people causing trouble dropping by 3000.

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Residents in parts of the Capital say youth crime remains a major problem. John Sked, 76, living in Muirhouse, said the area had been plagued by gangs of children committing acts of vandalism, including fireraising, in derelict buildings.

He said: “The older ones, who are teenagers, go into these derelict houses for scrap metal and the younger children – they must be aged around four to about eight yearsold – go in after.

“It’s about time the parents were held responsible. They just run about Muirhouse with no parental control at all.

The three and four-year-olds were among 34 under-eights who were caught offending in the Lothian and Borders force area in August last year.

Two seven-year-olds were reported for acting in a racially aggravated manner and a six-year-old and seven-year-old were detained for assault. A total of 12 under-eights were reported for vandalism.

Children under eight years old are below the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland, but police chiefs said they worked to address “any underlying issues” behind youngsters offending by liaising with social workers and other agencies.

Gavin Brown, Tory Lothians MSP, said: “We need an increase in the number of health visitors, not just in certain postcodes, and we need more education for very young children to try to ensure these problems are tackled early.”

A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police carry out a thorough investigation whenever a crime is reported and a child under the age of criminal responsibility is identified as the perpetrator.”