Children Carry Out 40% Of Muggings

Four out of ten muggings are committed by children aged 16 or under, it was revealed on Thursday. This is the first time a breakdown has been provided of who is responsible for the epidemic of robbery on Britain’s streets.

As well as being perpetrators of many street crimes, children are frequently the victims. They are seen as easy targets by muggers seeking mobile phones and MP3 players.

Last year, it was reported that almost 23,700 youngsters suffered the terror of having their possessions taken by force – more than 120 for every school day.

The true total is likely to be even higher, as only a fifth of robberies are thought to be reported to the police. The figures suggest that, in many cases, children are mugging each other with little regard for the consequences.

The statistics have only emerged following Freedom of Information requests to each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. The Government, despite claiming street crime is a top priority, does not keep information on who is responsible.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: “These new statistics reveal a worryingly significant area of crime that has gone unrecognised.

“Worse, this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg given how underreported crime is. Youth-on-youth crime could be a serious long-term problem and Labour is not even monitoring it.

“If this problem is not addressed now, Labour’s complacency will betray a whole generation of young people.”

The figures reveal 8,588 robbers were caught by police last year. Of these, 3,471 were aged 11-16 – an alarming 40 per cent. Some 3,040 were aged 17-22, 942 were 23-29 and 1,135 were aged 29 or over.

Norman Brennan, director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said: “If it is not bad enough they are carrying out robberies, all the evidence suggests a significant number are carrying-knives to do it. They put a knife in their pocket as routinely as they pull on their trainers in the morning.”

The 23,698 11 to 16-year-olds who were mugged last year represent 29 per cent of all victims.

But, because official Government data suggests only a fifth of robberies are reported to police, the true number of robberies on secondary school pupils could be as high as 118,000 a year.

The highest number of robberies by children last year was in the Metropolitan Police area, with 14,209.

The West Midlands recorded 2,088, Greater Manchester 1,120 and West Mercia 1,025. The lowest recorded number was Cumbria with just 19, followed by Lincolnshire with 28.

Tory youth spokesman Justine Greening, who obtained the figures, said: “Secondary school students and their parents will immediately recognise the picture of life these shocking crime figures paint.

“Having mobiles and iPods routinely stolen, being marched to the cashpoint, seeing their friends mugged – this is the everyday life for too many of our country’s teenagers.”

Last year, street crime and muggings in England and Wales rose by 8 per cent.