Shame of the boys facing court at 10

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FIVE boys aged 10 have appeared at court accused of racially or religiously-aggravated assault, battery, theft and criminal damage, The Star can reveal.

And five pensioners in their 70s and 80s have appeared on charges of exposure, dangerous driving and assault.

They are the oldest and youngest suspects to be charged by police in South Yorkshire over the past five years.

As part of The Star’s Your Right To Know’campaign, it has emerged that every year since 2007 officers from South Yorkshire Police have charged a child as young as 10 - the age at which, in law, children are deemed to have criminal responsibility.

Last year, the youngest suspect charged by police was a 10-year-old boy accused of causing criminal damage to the value of £5,000 or below.

The year before, the youngest to face police charges was another boy of 10, accused of racially or religiously-aggravated common assault.

In both 2008 and 2009, a boy aged 10 was accused of shoplifting, while in 2007 another boy aged 10 was charged with battery.

By contrast, the oldest suspect accused of committing criminal offences in South Yorkshire last year was a 75-year-old man who as charged with aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance.

And the year before an 81-year-old was charged with exposure.

In 2009, a man aged 84 ended up at court accused of causing actual bodily harm and in 2008 a man aged 81 was accused of racially-aggravated assault.

An 81-year-old was charged with driving whilst disqualified and without insurance in 2007.

The figures released by South Yorkshire Police show a total of 241,521 suspects were arrested between 2007 and 2011.

Of those, 86,707 ended up facing criminal charges - 36 per cent of the number of people questioned over incidents across the county.

Chief Superintendent Rob Odell, head of South Yorkshire Police’s criminal justice administration department, said: “South Yorkshire Police operates within the full extent of the law to ensure all suspected offenders are brought before the courts, irrespective of their age.

“Each individual who comes into the care of South Yorkshire Police undergoes a risk assessment and they are dealt with in a proportionate manner, particularly juveniles or those considered vulnerable.

“The figures show there are significantly more arrests than persons charged.

“However, they do not include those dealt with by way of cautions, behavioural orders, fixed penalty notices or restorative justice - the method of reprimand is proportionate to the crime committed.”