Daily Mail: Crimes by girls are up by 25% in three years

Monday, 12 May, 2008

CRIME committed by girls - some as young as ten - has soared by 25 per cent, official figures will reveal this week.

The crimewave will pile pressure on ministers, with the offending rate by teenage boys remaining stubbornly high.

It puts the spotlight on the introduction of 24-hour drinking, blamed for forcing many young girls off the rails by making it easier for teenagers to obtain alcohol.

The Government's critics will also point to evidence showing girl gangs are a growing phenomenon, particularly in towns and cities.

The figures have been compiled by the Youth Justice Board, the Government agency charged with reducing offending among the young.

Leaked copies of the research show that between 2003/4 and 2006/7, the number of crimes committed by girls aged ten to 17 climbed from 47,000 to 59,000. In the same period, crimes committed by boys remained worryingly high at 236,000, compared with 240,000 three years earlier.

Overall offences rose from 287,883 in 2003/4 to peak at 301,860 in 2005/6, before declining to 295,129 last year.

The figures cover offences dealt with through a criminal charge, a fixed-penalty notice, a police caution, or a formal warning.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: 'This is a shocking indictment of how Labour has failed to get a grip on crime and its causes - including their decision to unleash 24-hour drinking on our towns and cities.

'What kind of problems are we storing up for the future, with so many young people already being used to a life of crime?'

Recent cases involving young girls have included the stabbing murder of Tracy Ann Meade in South Norwood, South London, by her 16-yearold love rival Kelly Ross in 2006.

In March, a 15-year- old girl was jailed for using a mobile phone to film two drunken teenage male friends beating a man to death in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

Last week, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith vowed to 'turn the tables' on young troublemakers, with police officers ordered to give them 'a taste of their own medicine' by subjecting them to repeated visits.

The figures came as alarming new research, uncovered by Tory MP David Ruffley , showed a failure to crack down on the sales of violent video games to children.

Despite an explosion in games with content suitable for over-18s only not a single person received a caution for supplying violent video games and DVDs to someone underage. Only eight fines were imposed.

Mr Ruffley, the Tories' police reform spokesman, said: 'Selling 18+ rated violent computer games such as Grand Theft Auto IV to underage children is more likely when many retailers have no fear of being caught, as my figures demonstrate.

'This poor enforcement of the law is damaging to children. But I'm not surprised when officers are overwhelmed by a colossal amount of red tape.'