CHILDREN under the age of 10 were responsible for two rapes and seven other sexual offences in Shropshire last year, new figures have revealed.

There were also 25 assaults – two which were racially aggravated and eight which caused an injury – committed by children under the age of criminal responsibility.

In total there were 46 offences involving 49 suspects between the ages of five and nine recorded in the county in 2019.

Small numbers of offences of harassment, malicious communications and drug possession made up the rest of the total, along with burglary, criminal damage and shoplifting.

Children under 10 cannot be charged or face prosecution under English and Welsh law, but West Mercia Police said all child suspects of crime were given support along with their families to help them learn from their actions.

The figures, disclosed in response to a freedom of information request, show that in the five-year period between January 2015 and December 2019 there were 196 offences recorded and 214 suspects identified – including one aged just three and one aged four.

The figures relate to the Shropshire policing area which does not include Telford.

Shropshire Commander, Superintendent Mo Lansdale, said: “Some children under the age of 10 do not always know the difference from right or wrong and it is important we give them the opportunity to show remorse, learn from their mistakes and, with the appropriate support, move forward.

“Where offences involve a child we will work with our partner agencies to make sure they and their family have access to the support they need.”