200 children arrested for car crimes in past two years
SCORES of youngsters have been arrested for a range of car crimes – despite not being old enough to drive.
Boys and girls as young as 11 are among 207 juveniles detained for motoring offences over the past two years.
They include an 11-year-old boy accused of aggravated vehicle taking, three teenagers arrested for drink-driving, a 15-year-old girl arrested on suspicion of taking a vehicle without the owner's consent, and dozens of teenagers younger than 17 caught driving illegally.
The figures have shocked safety campaigners and led to calls for better teaching of road safety awareness.
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Stephen Belfield, campaigns officer for the Brake road safety charity, said: "It is deeply worrying that so many young people are getting behind the wheel without passing their test and some are also taking huge risks by drinking alcohol and driving.
"Every day Brake supports devastated families who have lost loved ones in road crashes. We urge young people to commit to stay safe on roads by never taking illegal risks.
"We are also calling on the Government to include compulsory road safety education in the national curriculum to help young people to be safe as drivers and passengers."
Sergeant Rob Gilligan, of Staffordshire Police's Road Policing Team, said: "Young people need to understand that the roads are not a playground.
"They need to receive formal training with hazard perception and theory tests.
"When you're behind the wheel of a car you need to be aware that you're in control of something that weighs a ton or more. You can do an awful lot of damage."
Among the data released under the Freedom of Information Act, there were details of two 11-year-olds arrested for taking a vehicle without the owners' consent.
There were 26 juveniles aged 11 to 16 arrested for aggravated vehicle taking, and 41 aged 13 to 16 arrested for underage driving, while two fifteen-year-olds and one 16-year-old were held for drink driving.
The figures also include 55 17-year-olds arrested for a range of offences.
The figures are for the calendar years 2010 and 2011, during which Staffordshire Police showed a slight decline in the number of arrests, with 108 in 2010 and 99 in 2011.
In Cheshire, the force arrested 154 13 to 17-year-olds for various car crimes.
A further 86 arrests were made in 2011.