CHILDREN as young as four in Wigan have been recorded as committing serious sexual crimes, shocking new figures reveal.
Data released by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) under Freedom of Information rules has highlighted the appalling state of crime involving minors in the borough.
Last year 1,329 offences were attributed to youngsters aged 17 and under committed a criminal offence, which also includes rape, arson to endanger life and assault; and 779 children were victims of crime.
The most serious offences logged were rape of a child under 13, which data shows was allegedly committed by a seven-year-old and a four-year-old was recorded as engaging in sexual activity with a child under 13. Two eight-year-olds were reported to have raped a boy under the age of 16.
An eight-year-old was also being investigated for sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 13 and an 11-year-old was alleged to have engaged in sexual activity with a minor under 13.
More than five 11-year-olds have caused or incited a child under 13 to take part in sexual activity and a 13-year-old was found in possession of a pornographic photograph.
Children as young as nine have been entered onto police records as committing assault, occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) and an eight-year-old was recorded as being investigated for assault and battery.
Teenagers aged 13 have been accused of wounding, causing grievous bodily harm and affray.
Arsonists have started from the age of 10, being investigated for endangering life and 11 for less serious blazes.
A 13-year-old was caught with cannabis and a 14-year-old was questioned for possessing the Class B drug. A 16-year-old was found in possession of illegal drug MDMA.
But a spokesman for GMP said that as the age of criminal responsibility is 10, some crimes recorded below that age could be due to data entry errors.
Supt Jacqui Pendlebury said: “There are a number of partner agencies that work together to prevent children becoming victims or offenders of crime.
“Currently there are approximately 12 crimes against children under 18 years old per 1,000 persons in this age group across the Wigan borough.
“There are strong referral procedures in place to prevent and minimise a child’s involvement in criminal activity.
“The approach taken to look at the welfare of the child involves the right partners working with the child and their family to achieve the best outcomes for the child.
“Wigan police, working alongside our partners, are dedicated to safeguarding children.”
Among the crimes committed against children are babies subjected to cruelty and neglect and assault. Tots aged one, two, three and four have also been victims of common assault and battery.
There have been a large number of sexual offences committed against children, with a two-year-old raped by a man and a six year-old girl raped by a boy under the age of 13.
According to the data, a baby and a toddler aged three were sexually assaulted, whilst a child aged four was engaged in sexual activity with another minor.
A four-year-old was incited to take part in sexual activity; a four-year-old boy was sexually assaulted; two 11-year-old boys and a 13-year-old girl were groomed and boys as young as eight have been raped.
Figures, given by Greater Manchester Police, show that the number of child perpetrators has gone up from 2013, with 1,204 to 1,329, but have fallen from its highest peak of 1,524 in 2011.
Similarly, while the number of young victims has fallen from the previous year, of 792, figures have risen from the lowest count in four years, of 636 in 2012.