By Katie May Nelson, Local Democracy Journalist
Forty-four children aged nine and under were investigated by police in Thanet in 2020.
Kent Police recorded incidents for suspects under the age of 10, which is the age of criminal responsibility in England.
Anyone under this age cannot be arrested or charged with a crime.
Medway had the most investigations at 84 with Dover second at 50. And while Medway was also at the top of the list for average annual number of investigations since 2017, Thanet was second.
The figures came to light after the Local Democracy Reporting Service asked Kent Police for a breakdown of the number of crimes under investigation when the suspect was under 10 years old.
The force provided figures for suspects who were nine years old or younger at the time of recording the incident.
Average number of criminal investigations where the suspect was under 10 years old each year since 2017:
Medway – 84
Thanet – 59
Dover – 55
Swale – 54
Maidstone – 40
Folkestone and Hythe – 36
Canterbury – 35
Ashford – 33 years old
Dartford – 26
Sevenoaks – 24
Gravesham – 23 years old
Tonbridge and Malling – 20
Tunbridge Wells – 13
The most common offense committed by those under 10 was personal violence.
The top five types of offenses for criminal investigations conducted between 2017 and 2020 when the suspect was under the age of 10:
Violence against the person – 1217
Sexual Offenses – 337
Arson and Criminal Damage – 189
Flight – 97
Public order offenses – 82
Other crimes included theft, burglary, possession of weapons and drugs, and vehicle offenses.
While children under the age of 10 cannot be arrested or charged, there are other methods of dealing with them, including restorative justice.
This is when offenders are encouraged to make a deal with their victims, which could be done by writing a letter of apology or repairing any damage done.
Superintendent Pete Steenhuis, Kent Police Partnerships Officer, said: “We at Kent Police recognize that the vast majority of young children are not naturally drawn to crime and that there are often reasons underlying such as abuse, neglect or trauma that causes some to behave like most others do not.
“It is therefore important that these children receive the appropriate level of support and guidance, which police services are not always in the best position to provide.
“In many cases, a child will benefit more from the intervention of social services or youth offender teams to understand the reasons for their behavior, rather than engagement with the criminal justice system at such a young age.
“We are, however, committed to protecting all children, whether above or below the age of criminal responsibility, and are creating a dedicated team of school officers who will seek to identify and disrupt criminal activity. , to protect vulnerable children, to exert a positive influence. and reduce fear of crime.
“For people under the age of 10, the Youth Justice Team provides guidance and support to officers on appropriate early intervention pathways to enable these children to access support services. appropriate. “
Children under 10 may also be subject to a local children’s curfew which prohibits children from being in public between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless accompanied by an adult.
They could also be issued a child safety order where they are placed under the supervision of a team of young offenders. If the rules are not followed, a court can determine whether the child should be taken into care.
Mr Steenhuis added: ‘It is hoped that by early 2022 most secondary schools, pupil guidance units and independent special schools in Kent will each have a dedicated manager who will support pupils, teachers and teachers. parents, and we will also continue to work with and support our elementary schools.
“Our dedicated youth justice team ensures that young people between the ages of 10 and 18 who have committed an offense receive a proportionate result in partnership with local authorities.
“In addition to this, we also continue to work closely with the Medway Integrated Prevention Service and Kent’s Youth Inclusion Support Program, which can help identify a youth’s risk of delinquency and attempt to meet all of their needs. “