CHILDREN have been charged with 4,515 crimes since 2015 and youngsters aged 10 and under were responsible for 70 of them.

Figures obtained by The Press under the Freedom of Information Act show that while juvenile crime in North Yorkshire has dropped slightly since 2015, thousands of young people are committing crimes while they are still at school.

Children aged 12 and under were responsible for 477 crimes in North Yorkshire and the most frequent crime, according to the North Yorkshire Police statistics, was violence against a person, with 1,412 charges brought against youngsters.

In 2015 there were 1,682 crimes, 1,574 a year later and 1,259 in 2017.

Figures were also high in arson and criminal damage (653), shoplifting (934), drugs (370), and 199 children were charged with burglary in the last three years.

The Press also obtained figures which show under 18-year-olds were responsible for 19 sexual offences, five robberies and 105 drug offences during 2017.

The number of crimes committed by youngsters were higher among older children as only 70 crimes were carried out by 10-year-olds but 974 were recorded against 17-year-olds last year.

David Ellis, a former York head teacher, said: "Any offences involving children and young people are concerning but it is encouraging that in nearly all categories numbers have fallen in the three year period 2015-17.

"These improvements are a result of concerted action by all professionals working with young people to support them and their families through challenging situations. Schools are only one element of this approach as a complex set of factors which influence the behaviour of young people."

"In my experience young people understand right and wrong but in the small number of cases where criminal behaviour takes places this is usually as a result of poor mental health, the impact of neglect and abuse of the result of alcohol and drug abuse by the young person or someone within their family."

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Richard Anderson, said: "The reasons why children commit crime are many and varied and headline figures can never give the full picture of the complexities behind young people’s offending.

"Children are impressionable and vulnerable to exploitation if they don’t have the right guidance and positive role models in their lives.

"We work hard with our partner agencies to help divert children away from criminality but sadly there are some that are drawn into it.

"It’s encouraging that the figures for juvenile crime have reduced year on year and we are confident that trend will continue as we build on the various initiatives we have in place with our partner agencies."