Children as young as eight among hundreds reported for housebreaking
3 April 2018, 08:29
Hundreds of children, including some eight-year-olds, have been reported for housebreaking in the past thee years.
The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration has received 517 referrals for under-18s since 2014/15, figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives show.
The party's justice spokesman said in the case of the pre-teen reports, "questions really do have to be asked about the parents".
The statistics, released through Freedom of Information, show 186 under-18s were referred in 2016/17, broadly similar to the two previous years.
In the three-year period, East Ayrshire and Highland council areas both recorded at least one eight-year-old being being referred for breaking into someone's home.
Across Scotland, at least three nine-year-olds and seven 10-year-olds were reported for housebreaking in the same period.
Glasgow topped the list for having the most children reported for the offence, at 79, followed by Edinburgh with 65 and North Lanarkshire with 42.
The most common age for under-18 housebreaking referrals was fifteen with 208 instances since 2014/15.
Scottish Conservative Justice Secretary Liam Kerr said: "Being broken into and robbed is one of the most upsetting things that can happen to a household.
"For victims, it's irrelevant what age the perpetrators are, it remains terrifying and can leave a lasting impact.
"It's alarming that hundreds of children have been referred for this crime across Scotland in recent years, and the trend isn't improving.
"We need to get in and ensure these youngsters are put on the right path, because once people start out on this road to a career in crime, it's extremely hard to get them off it.
"When children who haven't even reached their teens are being referred for this, questions really do have to be asked about the parents too."
He said there is an "an extremely poor clear-up rate" for housebreaking across Scotland, with recent government statistics showing it stands at just over one in five instances, 22.5%.
The Scottish Government last month introduced a proposed new law at Holyrood to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from eight to 12.