Twelve children charged with firearms offences in South Yorkshire over last three years

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Twelve children in South Yorkshire have been charged with firearm offences over the last three years.

Two 16-year-olds were charged in 2015, four 17-year-olds, a 16-year-old and a 15-year-old were charged in 2014, and a 15-year-old and 17-year-old were charged in 2013.

They were all charged with possession of firearms or possession of firearms with intent.

The figures were released by South Yorkshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act.

Figures from 29 forces which provided the number of child arrests for suspected gun crimes each year showed children as young as 10 years old were among hundreds of youngsters arrested for suspected gun crimes.

More than 1,500 child arrests for alleged firearm offences were carried out by police between 2013 and January 2016, with the number soaring by 20 per cent last year.

There were 1,549 arrests of children for suspected crimes involving firearms, air weapons or imitation guns, including 506 charges brought by police.

A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman said: “Firearms offences in the UK still account for less than 0.2 per cent of total recorded crime. These offences reflect a broad range of crimes which can include air weapons or even possession of a BB gun if used in criminal circumstances.

“Forces across the country and community safety partnerships are working together to prevent young people getting involved in gangs and firearms. This is a key piece of work for all agencies and communities in breaking the cycle of young people becoming involved in gangs and the associated criminality.”

Jack Dromey, Labour’s shadow policing minister, said: “These chilling statistics of children as young as 10 possessing firearms demand serious investigation by the Home Office.

“We need to learn lessons ranging from tougher penalties for those who supply guns to children to what further steps might be taken to combat gun crime through schools.”