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Nearly 300 under-age sex offenders are logged in Tayside

This Is North Scotland, October 29, 2007

Almost 300 under-age sex offenders have been logged in Tayside in the last three years, it emerged yesterday.

These shocking figures by under 16-year-olds included 42 rapes and 179 lewd and indecent acts.

The region reported the third-highest amount of these crimes by youngsters in Scotland.

The offences also included 49 indecent assaults and 20 indecencies.

The highest in Scotland was Strathclyde Police's area, with 503 under-age sex crimes in total with the youngest offender being just seven.

Grampian was second-highest with 311 and Tayside had 290. North-east Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said last night: "I find it particularly surprising we have double the national average in Grampian."

"If we have 10% of the Scottish population, we should have about 150 offences, so I would hope this is down to better reporting and better detection of these crimes."

There has been changes to the ways police forces in Scotland collate crime figures in recent years.

Youngsters under eight are too young to be prosecuted but can be referred to the children's reporter for their own safety and welfare.

A hearing could then decide on measures to help them.

The information, obtained through freedom of information requests, cover the three years to April 2007.

Almost 1,500 sex offences by under 16s were reported to police forces across Scotland.

Fife had 216, Lothian and Borders had 230 and Dumfries and Galloway had 29.

Central Scotland and Northern Constabulary did not provide full figures.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government's justice department said: "Ministers have made it clear that they take the issue of sexual offenders very seriously, regardless of age."

"Work is ongoing to upgrade the way agencies work to address the offending behaviour of young people."

"The Scottish Government is taking forward a number of actions to improve our response to this problem."

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