Children under 10 suspected of committing more than 100 rapes in Greater Manchester since 2014

The NSPCC says many of the children involved in cases where a rape suspect is younger than the age of criminal responsibility could have been abused themselves.

Police in Greater Manchester have been unable to prosecute more than 100 rape cases since 2014 because the suspect was aged under 10, shock data reveals.

The distressing statistics show there have been 111 such cases in the city-region since 2014-15 and came to light following analysis by our sister title NationalWorld.

In these circumstances it is not possible to pursue the case because the suspect is under the age of criminal responsibility, which is 10.

The NSPCC said many of these young people could have been victims of abuse themselves, while Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have explained which support services are available for those involved in these cases.

What does the data show for Greater Manchester?

The data shows that GMP recorded 111 rape cases with a suspect younger than 10 between 2014-15 and the first six months of 2021-22.

The highest figures were recorded across a three-year period, with 19 such cases in 2016-17, 27 in 2017-18 and 21 in 2018-19.

There were also 15 of these incidents recorded by the force in the first half of the most recent year (2021-22).

NationalWorld found that across England and Wales there have been more than 1,600 rapes recorded with a suspect aged under 10 since 2014.

What happens when suspects are under the age of criminal responsibility?

The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10. Children younger than this cannot therefore be arrested or charged with a crime.

The figures are based on the date a final outcome for a crime was recorded, rather than the crime itself.

Children under 10 who commit a crime can be given a Child Safety Order and placed under the supervision of a youth offending team.

Children under 10 who break the law regularly can sometimes be taken into care.

What have charities said about the data?

Clare Kelly, NSPCC associate head of policy and public affairs, said: “Younger children may display harmful sexual behaviour for a number of reasons such as being co-erced into an act by an adult or being exposed to trauma and abuse themselves.

“In some of the most serious cases it may be deemed necessary for a child under 10 to be placed under a Child Safety Order, but it is absolutely essential that safeguarding and welfare of children involved in these awful incidents is the priority – rather than a punitive response.”

What has Greater Manchester Police said?

GMP said that in cases involving children under the age of criminal responsibility the force works with partner agencies to put appropriate safeguarding and supervision in place.

With any case of reported sexual offences, GMP said it referred those affected to support services.

These include:

Saint Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Manchester, which provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to men, women and children who live or have been sexually assaulted within Greater Manchester. The organisation offers forensic medical examinations, practical and emotional support as well as a counselling service for all ages. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and can be accessed by ringing 0161 276 6515.

Greater Manchester Rape Crisis, which is a confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. They can be called on 0161 273 4500 or emailed at [email protected]

Survivors Manchester, which provides specialist trauma informed support to boys and men in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape or sexual exploitation. The service can be rung on 0161 236 2182.