The number of children caught breaking into homes in Scotland increased last year.
More than 1,200 young people have been referred for housebreaking incidents since 2018 – with two in Aberdeen aged just eight years old.
More than a third of the children caught in Scotland over the period were aged 15.
Glasgow recorded the largest number of cases with 495 under-18s being referred to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration over a five-year period.
Edinburgh was the second highest region with 81 over the last five years, though still only a fraction (16.3%) of the number of children referred in Scotland’s biggest city.
This was followed by North Lanarkshire with 78 and the Highlands with 67.
|Local authority/Age of child||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||Referrals|
|Argyll & Bute||1||2||2||4||9|
|Dumfries & Galloway||1||5||12||13||11||3||45|
|Edinburgh, City of||1||1||20||41||14||4||81|
|Perth & Kinross||1||2||1||2||1||7|
The trend for referrals is going down from the peak of 419 cases in 2018, although the 189 referrals last year was a rise from 2021.
The data, which was provided to the justice affairs magazine 1919, showed the majority of cases involved teenagers aged between 13 and 16.
Conservative MSP Liam Kerr told 1919: “People right across the country will be staggered to see kids as young as eight getting involved in this very serious crime.
|Argyll & Bute||2||2||1||1||3|
|Dumfries & Galloway||16||3||1||11||14|
|Edinburgh, City of||28||9||6||10||28|
|Perth & Kinross||2||1||2||2|
“It’s especially alarming for Aberdeen, which features prominently in these statistics.
“Kids of this age aren’t capable of executing this kind of crime alone and will undoubtedly be getting exploited and controlled by older criminals.
“It is those individuals we should be targeting to ensure this sort of despicable activity reduces.
“Anyone who uses children as part of their criminal operation is beyond contempt.”
Niven Rennie, a former police superintendent who is executive chair of the Hope Collective community organisation, said some young people are being exploited to commit crimes.
He said: “Children as young as eight should be offered something a whole lot better than getting involved in crime.
“This is similar to what’s happening with drugs and county lines, where criminals exploit young people because they are less likely to be stopped by police.
“We need to examine the causes of this because it isn’t normal behaviour.
“People are impoverished and willing to take any action they can to get some money.”